Julie's Reviews > Unaccustomed Earth

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
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's review
Apr 11, 2008

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Read in August, 2008

I've been a fan of Jhumpa Lahiri since Interpreter of Maladies came out, I think I was even still in college when I first read it. Almost a decade later, I'm still impressed by the precision and austere-yet-moving prose she creates. in Unaccustomed Earth, as with her earlier works, her style is careful and at the same time effortless. The book was an enjoyable read.

Unaccustomed Earth is another collection of short stories focusing on the contemporary Indian American immigration experience and the complex inter-generational relationship between Bengali immigrants and their American-born children. So in other words, this third book covers the same subject as the first two, ad nauseum.

I'm sorry, I'm just going to say it, I'm getting tired of Lahiri's veiled autobiography thing. 80% of the stories describe an Indian family that has moved to Boston so that the father can get his PhD in one of the sciences at Harvard. And the complications that ensue. And subject-wise, that is about it.

Oh, occasionally, she'll vary the degree-granting school.

If Lahiri is playing on something here - that is, deliberately shaping her career around writing the same story over and over and over and over to prove some kind of literary thesis - then she needs to make that deliberate goal more clear. As it stands, she seems to be taking the safest road possible as an author. I understand the concept of writing what one knows and loves and feels, but I'm starting to think Lahiri is a one-trick pony.

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