Amanda's Reviews > Unaccustomed Earth

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
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Jul 01, 09

bookshelves: fiction, short-stories
Read in June, 2009 — I own a copy, read count: 1

Lahiri wrote a collection of short stories in 1999 called “Interpreter of Maladies” that blew me away. It was emotional... with a range of emotion not just sorrow and heartache, and it was a nice insight into Indian culture. When I saw “Unaccustomed Earth” at the bookstore I picked it up thinking that it too would be a delight to read. In no way is this review going to be a bad review. Lahiri did indeed write a collection that was full of emotion, but this time “Unaccustomed Earth” did not sit within a spectrum of emotion but instead it was full of disappoint, sorrow and heartache. It was hard to read and not become glum. Some of the stories ended with deaths and unrequited love, others ended without hope.

The language, as you would expect from Lahiri was vivid and poignant. Some stories are better written than others. The namesake of the collection is by far my favorite. A father travels to his daughter’s house after many years of not seeing her to tell his daughter of his new relationship. The time they spend together is a relief to the daughter Ruma but the father never tells his daughter what he traveled so far for, instead he spends his time with his grandson. During his visit he writes a postcard to the new love in his life and meant to send it the next day but could not find it again. After he left Ruma finds the postcard written in Bengali. Unsure of whom the woman is and what the card says Ruma contemplates the postcard before putting a stamp on it and placing it in the mailbox. I absolutely loved the ending of this story. When Ruma finds the postcard there is so much confusion and emotion there and the acceptance of her father’s ability to move on after her mother’s death was a beautiful way to end the story.

I gave “Unaccustomed Earth” 3 out of 5 because there were two stories that really moved me in this collection; Unaccustomed Earth and Hema and Kaushik (a collection of three). The others were good but not fantastic. I do recommend it to other readers, but beware it is a collection of gloomy stories.
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