Monday, May 5, 2008

Unaccustomed Earth

I've been breezing through Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri. As with Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake, I'm in love. Each story is so completely different from one another, yet they're based along the same themes.

The book opens with the title story, probably my favorite so far. Unaccustomed Earth is about a young Bengali woman who's married to an American. Her widowed father comes to visit. The story studies their relationship from both points of view (POV), so the reader can see all the miscues each person gets from the other. It was so moving.

Hell-Heaven explores a friendship between a married woman and a brother-like friend. It's told from the POV of the woman's young daughter.

A man and his American wife return to his high school alma mater for a wedding of a friend in A Choice of Accommodations. The man deals with many emotions during the weekend, including abandonment, resentment, love and loneliness. This was particularly interesting to read from the male perspective. Also impressive how Lahiri could write from that perspective as well.

I was most surprised (for reasons I won't say) by Only Goodness, a story about a brother and sister and how they grow up, sometimes close, sometimes not. The family dynamics in this story were very intriguing - parents feeling shame, the sister (the most Americanized) having to grow up so much quicker to help her parents, etc.

Nobody's Business actually takes the POV of an American watching the comings and goings of his female Bengali roommate. This was also an interesting perspective, though I would've liked to know more about what was going on in the roommate's mind during her time at his apartment.

I've now moved on to the second half of the book, which comprises three stories about the same family. I'd rather read all of them first, before sharing my thoughts. The stories are so good, it's nearly impossible to put the book down without at least finishing each story.


willikat said...

thanks for using the word "comprised" correctly. it totally made my heart bigger. (i knew i could count on you to.)

A. said...

You're hilarious. Good ol' AP Stylebook - I guess 8 years studying that thing really does pay off!