Jeffrey's Reviews > Unaccustomed Earth

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
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's review
Mar 05, 09

bookshelves: baltimore-city-paper-top-10, read-in-2009, award-year-2008
Recommended to Jeffrey by: Baltimore City Paper
Read in March, 2009, read count: 1

Jhumpa Lahiri's book of stories about Bengali immigrants to the United States and their (1st generation American) children is a deliberate, sad read, but leaves the reader feeling as if she covered the same story seven times.

In all the stories, the protagonists are largely professionally driven (and successful) but personally averse to confrontation (not so much). They avoid dealing with their difficulties, mostly to protect the object of their affections, and this is usually their downfall.

I understand from other reviews here that this is familiar, frequently trodden, ground for Lahiri (mostly New England set, Privately (Ivy) Education, marriages that are either arranged or unsuccessful) and I wonder if it colors my impressions of the book.

Still there are moving moments that make the book worth reading, striking turns of phrase that make your (emotional) guts turn as the wrenching outcome is revealed.

There are certainly people to whom I would recommend this book, but I don't think I'd suggest it for everyone.

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Reading Progress

02/26/2009 "Starting my project of reading Baltimore City Paper's Ten Best Books of 2008."
02/27/2009 page 38
11.41% "The first story is of a stay-at-home mother, who is a former professional, being visited by her widowed father. Striking, but sad."
03/03/2009 page 197
59.16% "In some ways, you have to wonder if Lahiri thinks the Bengali-American experience can only lead to ruin."
03/04/2009 page 265
79.58% "Lahiri finally strays from her pattern in Nobody's Business. However only in providing a white lead who is like her earlier Bengali chars."

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