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Unaccustomed Earth

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  82,091 ratings  ·  7,901 reviews
Eight stories—longer and more emotionally complex than any Lahiri has yet written—that take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand as they enter the lives of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers.

From the internationally best-selling, Pulitzer Prize–winning author, a superbly crafted new work of fiction: eight storie
Hardcover, 1st, 352 pages
Published 2008 by Knopf
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  82,091 ratings  ·  7,901 reviews

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Apr 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The title of Lahiri’s latest book—Unaccustomed Earth—refers to the first story in this collection but also to a motif dominating all of the stories: tales about a world unaccustomed to the shifts and changes taking place on its surface, a world uncomfortable with the destruction and loss brought on by hurricanes and tsunamis, unfamiliar with modern diseases and traumas, and unsure about the class and cultural conflicts that dominate relationships in the lives of Lahiri’s characters. The earth th ...more
Apr 08, 2008 rated it liked it
As I progressed through the first four stories, I became more and more angry. I couldn't understand why Lahiri would put out another book that was almost identical to to her first. She seemed to have retreated even further into her "safe space", writing only about Bengali Americans who study at ivy league schools, have well educated albeit maladjusted parents and struggle with redefining relationships after relocation. I expected a lot more when I read the title and its reference to Nathaniel Ha ...more
These eight short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri are quiet, penetrating, and meticulously written. The first five stories are distinct, while the last three are interrelated. Lahiri's prose seems so clean and precise that it is very easy to turn page after page despite the fact that her stories are not really plot-driven. Rather, each story delves into the psyche of each character with such skill that the reader can't help but feel extremely intimate with each one, whether male or female, likable or o ...more
Barbara H
Sep 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asia, short-stories
I have often stated that I do not enjoy short stories, but although this is designated as such, it oversimplifies the content of this book. With understated elegance, Lahiri has drawn in the reader to become immersed in tales of families, lovers and friends. She has the unique ability to simply, but fascinatingly communicate the features of the characters' behaviors, thoughts and emotions. In addition, she is able to express such dimensions so wellthat I felt I had become acquainted with these p ...more
Jun 07, 2008 rated it it was ok
A real disappointment after her first two books. Doing away with both the emotional gut-punches of displacement and desperation found in "Interpreter of Maladies" and the elegiac generational sweep of "The Namesake," Lahiri in "Unaccustomed Earth" zeroes in on the least interesting dimension of her usual subjects: the interior monologues of fully assimilated, second-generation Indian-Americans who are ungratefully dissatisfied with their lives of privilege. Her formerly melancholic insight and p ...more
Apr 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps a new term needs to be used for short stories such as these. Each one is jam-packed with details that never bog down; each one is as dense and rich as a novel. The writing never falters; it is always smooth, flowing and self-assured.

Of course the last 3 stories could be a novella, and we are lucky not to have to buy a separate book to experience them.

Wonderful characters, wonderful stories, wonderful writing.
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"It didn't matter where she was in the world, or whether or not she was dying; she had always given everything to make her homes beautiful, always drawn strength from her things, her walls. But Kaushik never fully trusted the places he'd lived, never turned to them for refuge. From childhood, he realized now, he was always happiest to be outside, away from the private detritus of life."

In each of the eight stories in this collection by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, the characters
Glenn Sumi
May 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Eight short stories of remarkable depth, richness and resonance. Part one consists of five stand-alone stories, some of which have the density of novellas; part two consists of three stories that chronicle several decades in the lives of two characters whose lives have been fatefully intertwined.

Lahiri's protagonists might all be Bengalis from India taking root in America and then often abroad, but their secrets, hopes and dreams are universal. The stories' endings are particularly powerful, ful
Asha Seth
Dec 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Short-Story Readers
Recommended to Asha by: Other Lahiri Books
Unaccustomed Earth is Jhumpa Lahiri's yet another collection of most dazzling short-stories of all times making it evident the umpteenth time the kind of prodigious skills she portrays with her art of putting together in words the distressed hearts and confused minds of her characters that are struggling in unknown lands, striving to accept outlandish ways while clutching the bag of their traditional ways close to their hearts and ending up in those neverlands where they find themselves still sl ...more
Dec 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lahiri's always going to write beautiful, dense stories but many of the stories felt very similar, same settings, same cultural clashes, same upper middle class, exclusive college educated people angst. Nonetheless, I quite enjoyed the book. I would read it again.
Samir Rawas Sarayji
This won't be a usual review but more of a personal reflection. The reason is that I recently read some reviews and comments of a GR friend ( Aubrey ) who recently read 'The Namesake' by Lahiri and found it to be nothing special and she cited some pretty good reasons to support her case. Then I thought about the two books of Lahiri that I have - both short story collections - and why I had rated them 5 stars each. This is what happens when you feel in sync with such GR friends that they can make ...more
Apr 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
I have to admit that I was awaiting this book for many months and started reading it with a preconceived notion that the literary journey I was about to embark upon was one of immense finesse and depth. Some might argue that this mindset might cast a cloak on the negative qualities of the novel thereby making the stories more appealing. I've thought about this and beg to differ. Expectations of this height are hard to live by and many a (famous) novel have fallen short. Unaccustomed Earth did no ...more
i think that, as short story collections go, this one is up there with the great masterpieces -- flannery o'connor, hawthorne, raymond carver, nadine gordimer, alice munro (the writers who come to mind are the ones who straightforwardly explore the torments of the human heart). the most extraordinary feeling i have about it is that i glided from story to story without having much of a sense of interruption. the stories flow into each other, having to do with people who are different (in age, gen ...more
Rajat Ubhaykar
Jan 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-story
It's been some time since I read Unaccustomed Earth. I read it as an impressionable teenager and many of the nuanced impressions that were stamped upon my mind by this book have been more or less washed away by the heavy downpour of classics that has kissed my bookshelf since.

All I can glean out of the dusty recesses of my memory about this excellent collection of Indo-nostalgic short stories is feeling an ephemeral sense of loss. I remember it leaving me in the throes of a synthesized lonelines
Having just finished Unaccustomed Earth, I have to say I thought it was fantastic how Lahiri manages to catch the edge of human interactions--all that we don't say to each other throughout our lives. I really was close to tears at the end of the final story. This is my first experience with her writing other than reading one story. That previous story gave me a glimpse of her skill but now I have the full blown view of a writer who appears to be at a peak of ability.

This has broadened my view of
Elyse  Walters
Apr 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why I never wrote a review on this before. It's terrific!!!

I was comparing books with a new friend - whom I just connected with- and came to this book -

It deserved the Pulitzer in my opinion!!!
Jim Fonseca
Oct 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
These stories are about Bengali immigrants from the Bengal area of India, around Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). But these folks are not urban slumdogs or even rural slumdogs, arriving with manure on their shoes. These are high-end folks with PhD's and MD's who grew up speaking English in India and who came to the USA to be doctors, professors and engineers in the high-tech beltway bandit firms around Boston. There is a lot of local color of the modern Boston suburbs. The Bengalis live in upscale s ...more
Bookish Indulgenges with b00k r3vi3ws
After Interpreter of Maladies, this is the second Jhumpa Lahiri book that I have picked up. Yes, at the risk of raising eyebrows from one and many, I have to admit that I haven’t read The Namesake yet.

The first story in the book is ‘Unaccustomed Earth’ and I was lost in this book right from the first page and there’s no use in pretending otherwise. The common theme in all these stories is that they narrate about the NRI lives and their everyday nuisance. Be it a mother daughter bonding, or the r
Ronak Gajjar
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Her tiny rosy buds are a literal sweetener to every known emotion, igniting the fire to hold the reach of relationships cautiously and admiringly.
This book divided into two parts holding every three-dimensional character is vividly picturesque.
Part one embraces five different stories, while part two narrated from two different POVs combining itself into one slightly long keen tale.
The very first story – the title itself elaborates connection between grandfather-grandson and daughter-father. Th
Jun 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Lahiri is a treasure. I picked up this collection of short stories because I loved her previous book, The Namesake. These stories all involve Indian families who have moved to the United States and are struggling to adjust. Often there's tension with their children, who only want to fit in with Americans.

I couldn't pick a favorite story in this collection -- they all meant something special to me. I hope you find something in them, too.
Kris Kipling
To return to my lecturing days: I automatically gave low marks when a student used the dreadful phrase "sincere and simple" - "Flaubert writes with a style which is always simple and sincere" - under the impression that this was the greatest compliment payable to prose or poetry. When I struck the phrase out, which I did with such rage in my pencil that it ripped the paper, the student complained that this was what teachers had always taught him: "Art is simple, art is sincere." Someday I must t ...more
May 29, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Jean by: Popular reviews
Shelves: gave-up
I just never really get into her books...they seem heavy, tedious and plodding to me. After a few hundred pages, I returned this new one to the library. I guess I am just not a fan of this writer. I know she is very popular and you would think I would relate to the culture, but...I'm just not into it. I thought the short stories were predictable and trite to tell the truth.
May 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
To begin, I must disclose that I am a huge Jhumpa Lahiri fan. To me, she is one of the only authors who comes even close to articulating my experience as a child born and raised in the U.S. by immigrant parents, constantly straddling two worlds. I really enjoyed this book -- not nearly as much as I adored "The Namesake" (one of my all-time favorite books!), but more than her collection of short stories, "The Interpreter of Maladies."

This book is a collection of short stories. The first half is c
aPriL does feral sometimes
'Unaccustomed Earth' by Jhumpa Lahiri is an emotionally insightful and beautifully written collection of short stories and novellas. Each story relates a generational domestic tale of wealthy educated parents born in India and some of their foreign-raised adult children who were born in Bombay, or Calcutta, or Delhi, India, and some who are born outside of India. The parents, who as young adults had their marriages arranged by their wealthy parents, move to America, England, Italy, Canada becaus ...more
Jun 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a delightful collection of short stories focused on the ex-pat experience of Bengalis emigrating to America. There is an emotional depth to Lahiri’s writing that makes it seem both fresh and familiar. The three-story novella and the end of the book, which has such an unexpected ending, will be particularly memorable.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read2010
Lahiri continues to be one of my favorite authors, so much so that I put off reading this book for a while when it first came out. She is a master of short story writing, and her characters are rooted in India (Bengali, Calcutta usually) but living in the northeastern United States.
Kara Babcock
I went into this book not knowing what to expect, and I loved it. Jhumpa Lahiri creates timeless families that straddle the cultural divide between America and India. She captures the conflict of growing up as one tries to balance one's parent's wishes with the influence of one's heritage and the culture of one's surroundings.

Of the first part of the book, I loved "Unaccustomed Earth", "Hell-Heaven", and "Only Goodness." The other two stories were great, but those three are my favourite--particu
Dixie Diamond
I kind of liked this. The writing is good but the pace of the stories is v e r y s l o w . . . it seems to take ages to get to the ending. This would be OK except that the endings are really not that astounding; you're left with less of an "Oh, my God" feeling than a "well, duh; what did she expect?" one. The bodies of the stories would have been more in proportion to the ends if the writer had not worked so hard to draw them out. They end up feeling overwritten, and all for nothing.

One also get
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Another wonderful book by Lahiri. This is a book of short stories where each story tells about a Bengali family and how they are assimilating to the American way of life. Which is pretty typical of a Lahiri book. But, writers are always told to write what you know. I'm always amazed at how much detail and emotion that she can get into a short story. Getting the details of family life for one Bengali family for their entire lives.

I think she does best with her short story collections. This is he
Dec 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Rowena by: Christine Marie
Shelves: world-books
Quick, easy read. Does a good job with depicting cultural struggles that immigrants and their children face in foreign countries. Very realistic stories.
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Diversity in All ...: Unaccustomed Earth (April 2018) 4 30 May 22, 2018 12:00PM  

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Nilanjana Sudeshna "Jhumpa" Lahiri was born in London and brought up in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. Brought up in America by a mother who wanted to raise her children to be Indian, she learned about her Bengali heritage from an early age.

Lahiri graduated from South Kingstown High School and later received her B.A. in English literature from Barnard College in 1989. She then received multiple d

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