Beginning in America, and spilling back over memories and generations to India, Unaccustomed Earth follows new lives forged in the wake of loss. These are stories in which deeply sympathetic characters reach pivotal moments in their frayed relationships and are forced to navigate their way in unfamiliar landscapes. In the title story the death of ...
Beginning in America, and spilling back over memories and generations to India, Unaccustomed Earth follows new lives forged in the wake of loss. These are stories in which deeply sympathetic characters reach pivotal moments in their frayed relationships and are forced to navigate their way in unfamiliar landscapes. In the title story the death of a mother leaves a space neither daughter nor husband knows how to fill. In 'Only Goodness' a younger brother's spiralling alcoholism threatens to destroy his loyal sister's family. And in a trio of linked stories we follow the lives of a girl and boy who, one memorable winter, share a house in suburban Massachusetts. They travel from innocence to experience on separate, sometimes painful paths, until they are brought together years later in a chance meeting in Rome. With moving compassion Lahiri traces a series of transformations: weariness into hope, secrets into sacrifices, and grief into unforeseen love. Eight luminous stories - longer and richer than any she has yet written - explore the heart of family life and the immigrant experience, taking us from America to Europe, India and Thailand. Infused with eloquent warmth and lyrical simplicity, Unaccustomed Earth confirms Jhumpa Lahiri's status as a storyteller of unrivalled empathy.
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Publishers Weekly, 2008-01-28 The gulf that separates expatriate Bengali parents from their American-raised children-and that separates the children from India-remains Lahiri's subject for this follow-up to Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake. In this set of eight stories, the results are again stunning. In the title story, Brooklyn-to-Seattle transplant Ruma frets about a presumed obligation to bring her widower father into her home, a stressful decision taken out of her hands by his unexpected independence. The alcoholism of Rahul is described by his elder sister, Sudha; her disappointment and bewilderment pack a particularly powerful punch. And in the loosely linked trio of stories closing the collection, the lives of Hema and Kaushik intersect over the years, first in 1974 when she is six and he is nine; then a few years later when, at 13, she swoons at the now-handsome 16-year-old teen's reappearance; and again in Italy, when she is a 37-year-old academic about to enter an arranged marriage, and he is a 40-year-old photojournalist. An inchoate grief for mothers lost at different stages of life enters many tales and, as the book progresses, takes on enormous resonance. Lahiri's stories of exile, identity, disappointment and maturation evince a spare and subtle mastery that has few contemporary equals. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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