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198 pages, Hardcover
First published April 20, 1999
"Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination."Lahiri writes about India and Indian heritage, be it Indian immigrants to American university towns or people in India. The country itself, its culture, its beliefs, its traditions, and the pain of missing it are ever-present in her fiction. The Namesake dealt with exactly the same premise, and the similarities between that novel and these stories are profound. The similar theme, repeating over and over in the stories, makes you anticipate the storylines, but somehow it does not detract from enjoyment of the prose and the stories. It's not about the plot; Lahiri's storytelling hinges on the inner world of her characters, their hopes, dreams, and memories.
"Whenever he is discouraged, I tell him that if I can survive on three continents, then there is no obstacle he cannot conquer. While the astronauts, heroes forever, spent mere hours on the moon, I have remained in this new world for nearly thirty years. I know that my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from home, and certainly I am not the first. Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination."Overall, I enjoyed this story collection quite a bit. I chose to ration it over a few days rather than swallow them all at once, and it was a good experience. I definitely recommend this book and easily give it 4 stars. Now I'd be curious to see if and how Lahiri can expand her themes and touch on the subjects other than immigrant experience.
The beach was barren and dull to play on alone; the only neighbors who stayed on past Labor Day, a young married couple, had no children, and Eliot no longer found it interesting to gather broken mussel shells in his bucket, or to stroke the seaweed, strewn like strips of emerald lasagna on the sand.Emerald lasagna is such a perfect description. Never again will I see seaweed without thinking of this story of Eliot and Mrs. Sen, who wouldn't learn to drive, who chopped vegetables with her special knife from "home" and who wanted whole fish to cook.