Unaccustomed Earth

Lahiri, Jhumpa

Book - 2008
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Unaccustomed Earth
From the internationally best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, a superbly crafted new work of fiction: eight stories--longer and more emotionally complex than any she has yet written--that take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand as they enter the lives of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers. In the stunning title story, Ruma, a young mother in a new city, is visited by her father, who carefully tends the earth of her garden, where he and his grandson form a special bond. But he's harboring a secret from his daughter, a love affair he's keepingnbsp;all to himself. In "A Choice of Accommodations," a husband's attempt to turn an old friend's wedding into a romantic getaway weekend with his wife takes a dark, revealing turn as the party lasts deep into the night. In "Only Goodness," a sister eager to give her younger brother the perfect childhood she never had is overwhelmed by guilt, anguish, and anger when his alcoholism threatens her family. And in "Hema and Kaushik," a trio of linked stories--a luminous, intensely compelling elegy of life, death, love, and fate--we follow the lives of a girl and boy who, one winter, share a house in Massachusetts. They travel from innocence to experience on separate, sometimes painful paths, until destiny brings them together again years later in Rome. Unaccustomed Earth is rich with Jhumpa Lahiri's signature gifts: exquisite prose, emotional wisdom, and subtle renderings of the most intricate workings of the heart and mind. It is a masterful, dazzling work of a writer at the peak of her powers.

Publisher: New York : Knopf, 2008
Edition: 1st North American ed
ISBN: 0307265730
Branch Call Number: FIC LAHIRI 2008
Characteristics: 333 p. ; 22 cm


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Oct 26, 2014
  • WVMLStaffPicks rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

While the gulf that separates Bengali parents from their American-born children is the main theme, the stories in this collection are filled with insights into emotional connections that cross many borders as you enter the lives of friends and lovers, siblings, parents and grand parents, sons and daughters.

Mar 29, 2014
  • Jane60201 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Excellent, as are all her books.

Mar 16, 2014
  • Violet_Lion_31 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This book is so exquisitely written and it makes one analyze all that they really know about life and relationships.

Feb 18, 2014
  • bookwormjeph rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

After hearing Jhumpa talking about her books on a BBC book club programme I was intrigued enough to seek her writings out - and I am not disappointed. A collection of about 8 stories that all have subtle links centred around Indian immigrants experience of being in the USA. Beautifully written, understated prose, and very lyrical. A treat to read and I was totally engrossed in the lives of the characters.

Jul 06, 2013
  • midwestmath rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Compelling stories about family relationships involving Indian-Americans (Bengalis) in the United States. You get involved with the characters but stories are often bittersweet.

Aug 10, 2012
  • lonnylu rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book of short stories is so beautifully written.

Jul 27, 2012
  • uncommonreader rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Eight US/Bengali short stories, very well written.

Jul 13, 2011
  • pthielan rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Jhumpa Lahira writes with such passion and subtlety. Her characters are believable, and the stories engage you totally. Very, very good stories.

Jun 02, 2011
  • RenGrrl rated this: 5 stars out of 5.


May 19, 2011
  • ksoles rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

It takes a rare and particular talent to write captivating short stories; the author must perfectly craft every word, every sentence, in order to develop character, plot and intrigue in a limited space. Jhumpa Lahiri may just be the best short story writer I've ever read. Her first collection, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer in 2000 but I think her newest collection, Unaccustomed Earth (2008), is even more phenomenal. Lahiri's stories always feature characters of Bengali descent who reside in America but they are far from formulaic. 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. In another, the alcoholism of Rahul is described by his elder sister, Sudha, who struggles with her own disappointment, bewilderment and sense of duty. 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. Lahiri's stories are surprising, aesthetically marvelous and shaped by a sure and provocative sense of inevitability. I can only echo what Amy Tan wrote in a review: Lahiri is “the kind of writer who makes you want to grab the next person you see and say, ‘Read this!’”

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Aug 05, 2014
  • The_Snow_Man rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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Jul 30, 2010
  • bokinney rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

"Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil. My children have had other birthplaces, and, so far as their fortunes may be within my control, shall strike their roots into unaccustomed earth." -Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Custom-House"


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