Kerfe's Reviews > Unaccustomed Earth

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
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Dec 01, 08

bookshelves: fiction, short-stories
Read in November, 2008

These Bengali immigrants are restless; always on the move, away from, and back towards, their homeland, Calcutta. The family comforts at the same time it stifles. The parents put down shallow roots, surviving on the ritual of food and their circle of Bengali friends. Their children want to move beyond this world of comfortable Ivy League educations, and arranged marriages, yet they too have trouble making genuine connections that last. They wander, they hold onto people and things as a way of anchoring them in the world, often finding instead that no anchor has ever really been thrown. They struggle to determine what is real, what will last, where they belong.

Yet these characters do not seem alien. What parent can really inhabit or understand the world of their children? and what child can really take on their parents' hopes and dreams as their own? How few of us in this time of compressed change and constant motion can stop--and never feel the need to move on, to begin anew?

Lahiri works magic with her words. I began reading and became lost, immersed, totally involved in the accumulation of small details, the ones that pass almost unnoticed, yet assume monumental importance as the lives of each character unfold.

Truly wonderful.
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