Kathryn Bashaar's Reviews > Unaccustomed Earth
by Jhumpa Lahiri
by Jhumpa Lahiri
Kathryn Bashaar's review
Dec 14, 2008
Read in December, 2008
Although I write short stories myself, I don't usually like other writers' short stories. They usually seem either silly or too slight to me. But I really liked these stories, perhaps because they were longer than most and provide an opportunity to really get to know the characters deeply. Lahiri is an excellent writer and really brings her characters to life. I think my favorite was either Year's End or the title story Unaccustomed Earth. These stories seemed to have universal themes; the other stories were pretty specific to Indian expats. Unaccustomed Earth was a very touching story about a father and daughter, and Year's End dealt with a young man's difficult adjustment to his father's remarriage a few years after his mother's death. In fact, he never really "adjusts." The final story in the book revisits this same character almost 20 years later and he is a globe-trotting photographer with no permanent home - which relates to his feeling homeless after his mother's death. The title of the book is taken from a Nathaniel Hawthorne quote about his children "striking their roots in unaccustomed earth," and all of the stories are about Indian expats in the U.S. and definitely have as part of their theme the internal conflicts that arise from the meeting of Indian and American cultures. This was interesting to me, because I work with a lot of people who are native to India.
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