Jhumpa Lahiri: Unaccustomed Earth

by OMB Staff on May 1, 2008

unaccustomed earth, Jhumpa LahiriI just finished Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. This is a compilation of eight short stories with the common thread being nationality – expatriate Bengali parents and Americanized children were the main character traits. So much of each story delves into the difficult between parents from another country and their americanized children. 

I loved the first story and the last story, which is presented in three parts. I was not thrilled with everything in between, though they were interesting. The other six stories in their own ways, felt forced and as if the cultural differences were just a catalyst for the story, not the actual story. They did not have the masterfully written prose and the beautifully thought-provoking themes I thought the first and last stories had.

Lahiri masterfully uses imagery, symbolism and words to create an ‘outside looking in’ type of feel to her stories. Though I may not have enjoyed the middle stories as much as the first and last, I would recommend this book to others. I found myself picking up the book to read a few paragraphs when I had a few moments to spare. I found myself really thinking about the issue presented in the first story for several days after finishing it; and I was deeply saddened by the ending of the last story. The most powerful stories in this collection ‘Unaccustomed Earth’ and ‘Hema and Kaushik’ were stories of the heart. I felt the other stories were stories about social issues. You can find stories about social issues anywhere. I was looking for a collection of stories about the human factor, more insightful internal conflicts. That said, its rare to find a collection of short stories that gives just that.

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