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Unaccustomed Earthby Jhumpa Lahiri
Unaccustomed Earth is in many ways a deeply and authentically sad book. I would not advise reading the stories too quickly; they will each haunt you for days afterward (and, unusually in a collection like this, they are all equally strong). But Lahiri's prose is worth it; her work is masterful, confident, and timeless, and this gorgeously written collection of stories is her strongest fiction yet.
"Jhumpa Lahiri is, and is not, an old-fashioned writer. She is too natural to be anyone's imitator. Yet the kind of relationship she invites readers into can feel familiar from some of the books we were drawn into long ago, when we were first learning about the good company reading can provide." Sarah Kerr, The New York Review of Books (Read the entire New York Review of Books review)
Synopses & Reviews
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 keeping 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.
"The author's ability to flesh out completely even minor characters...will keep readers invested in the work until its heartbreaking conclusion." Library Journal
"An eye for detail, ear for dialogue and command of family dynamics distinguish this uncommonly rich collection." Kirkus Reviews
"Each of Lahiri's stories is a powerful tale that pulls us in, mesmerizes us while we're there, and releases us with the knowledge that we've just experienced a small masterpiece. This is truly dazzling fiction at its best." Oregonian
"The stories...are both memorable and unpredictable. And while they reflect another culture, they also edge into our lives resulting in a universal experience filled with emotional connections that cross borders." Chicago Sun-Times
"A Chekhovian sense of loss blows through these new stories: a reminder of Ms. Lahiri's appreciation of the wages of time and mortality and her understanding too of the missed connections that plague her husbands and wives, parents and children, lovers and friends." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"[A] powerful collection of short stories....As in all her fiction, Lahiri's prose here is deceptively simple, its mechanics invisible, as she enters into her characters' innermost journeys." Los Angeles Times
"These stories are often doleful and elegiac, but Unaccustomed Earth is cause for celebration: It showcases a considerable talent in full bloom." San Francisco Chronicle
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lahiri delivers eight dazzling stories that take readers from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand as they explore the secrets at the heart of family life.
About the Author
Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London and raised in Rhode Island. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the author of two previous books. Her debut collection of stories, Interpreter of Maladies, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award, and The New Yorker Debut of the Year. Her novel The Namesake was a New York Times Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, and was selected as one of the best books of the year by USA Today and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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