Reading: Unaccustomed Earth

Before I talk about Jhumpa Lahiri's latest collection of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth, there's something I have to say. I suppose I should just get it out of the way: Jhumpa Lahiri is HOT. Hot as in crazy-beautiful. She definitely has my vote for hottest Pulitzer-prize-winning author. It's simply one of life's petty injustices. Shouldn't there be a bit of a trade-off? You know, you get astounding writing talent but maybe you only get average looks. Or maybe there should be a sliding scale: the more successful of a writer you are, the odder you look (i.e. Stephen King.)

Anyway, I really enjoyed the book. I've read Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake, and it seems the Lahiri is continuing to grow a writer. Her prose is concise but she wrings an incredible amount of emotional complexity and and indirect characterization from her sentences.

The stories focus on the relationships: those between parents and children, husband and wife, sister and brother, and lover and lover. Most of the characters are Indian and Lahiri explores the quiet and not-so-quiet ways that cultural differences affect their relationships. Most of the characters immigrated to the States while children or are the children of immigrants and as such they stuggle with how to balance the traditions and expectations of Indian culture with the culture they have assimilated into.

As the daughter of an immigrant, I really relate to certain situations in the book. It's cheesy, but her writing really rings true to me. Two thumbs up.

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