Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri, is next up on our 100 Bestsellers List reading challenge. For a synopsis of the book, check out Roberta’s Writer’s Review.
This post does not contains spoilers.
Unaccustomed Earth* by Jhumpa Lahiri
Short Story Collection
Unaccustomed Earth is a bit unusual in that it is actually a collection of short stories. Part One consists of five different stories and Part Two has three stories centered around the same two main characters over the span of several decades. All the characters are Bengali immigrants adjusting to life in America.
For the most part, Lahiri’s stories were easy to read, with characters keeping secrets and experiencing life’s disappointments and hardships. Some of the stories were more memorable than others. A week after reading Part One, I could only remember three of the five short story plots. In Part Two, the voice changed to first person and took a while to get used to. Just when I was used to one voice, it changed to the second character’s voice, and then the final chapter was back to third person.
Lahiri is a Pulitzer Prize winning author who has a penchant for ending her stories abruptly, with no follow up of the characters. She likes to leave you guessing as to what happens in the future. Sometimes that works, but more often I was aggravated. I wanted more and felt cheated.
While I feel I have a better understanding of how immigrants and their children adjust (or do not adjust) to life in a new setting, Unaccustomed Earth left me sad and depressed, like I’d just spent a week without any sunshine. Lahiri’s characters reminded me of Eeyore, from Winnie-the-Pooh, always thinking, “Woe is me.” She would have us believe that immigrants rarely experience joy in their new country. I hope that is not reality.
- Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
- Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
- Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective
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What are we reading next?
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The next book is number 88. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (2011) – Discussion begins April 24, 2017