Title: Unaccustomed Earth: Stories
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Release Date: April 1, 2008
Genre: Literary Fiction, Multicultural Fiction, Short Stories
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 out of 5
In these eight stories, Jhumpa Lahiri uses Indian Americans and the clash between the first and second generations to deliver universal themes about the human condition.
I loved Jhumpa Lahiri’s first set of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, and while I’ve had this book for some time, its taken me awhile to pick it up. I figured that, while the stories would be great, they’d be dark and a bit heavy. Imagine my surprise when I found this book easy to read and utterly engrossing.
My main issue with short stories is that there is not enough time to bond with the main characters, to establish a real relationship with them before the story is over. Lahiri avoids that through the length of these stories – they’re longer than you’d expect, and this she is able to develop vivid, three dimensional characters in each one. It’s a testament to her talent that I sympathized with every character in her stories.
I loved the issues that Lahiri chose to tackle, especially in light of the clashes between first and second generation Indians (first, being those who immigrated, second being the children born in the new country). As a second generation Indian, I found that Lahiri had put many of my concerns and frustrations into words. I also loved that all her characters were in different situations – it was as if she had written about different feelings I’ve had at various stages in my life, or anticipate having as the future takes shape. This book really spoke to me.
Lahiri’s writing is beautiful in Unaccustomed Earth. She really has honed the craft; her prose is precise and meticulous, yet flows smoothly. She does an amazing job conveying deep and complex emotions through just a few words. The reader can feel the anguish, the despair, the joy, the passion of her characters simply through choice words and phrases. It’s an amazing experience to read this book, as you’ll get so wrapped up in it that it won’t let you go for a long time after reading the final pages.
I absolutely loved this book. I was riveted throughout it, and constantly felt the need to keep on reading. These stories aren’t heavy or depressing, but Lahiri does an amazing job making them relatable to Indians and non-Indians alike by making them about humanity and the shared issues we face. I can’t recommend these stories highly enough, and only hope that Lahiri’s next book will be coming out soon.