Unaccustomed Earth
by Lahiri, Jhumpa







PART ONE
Unaccustomed Earth
3
Hell-Heaven
60
A Choice of Accommodations
84
Only Goodness
128
Nobody's Business
174
PART TWO: HEMA AND KAUSHIK
Once in a Lifetime
223
Year's End
252
Going Ashore
294


Exploring the secrets and complexities lying at the heart of family life and relationships, a collection of eight stories includes the title work, about a young mother in a new city whose father tends her garden while hiding a secret love affair, as well as "Hema and Kaushik," "Only Goodness," and "A Choice of Accommodations," among others. 300,000 first printing.





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.





*Starred Review* Following her thoughtful first novel, The Namesake (2003), which has been made into a meditative film, Lahiri returns to the short story, the form that earned her the Pulitzer Prize for her debut, Interpreter of Maladies (1999). The tight arc of a story is perfect for Lahiri's keen sense of life's abrupt and painful changes, and her avid eye for telling details. This collection's five powerful stories and haunting triptych of tales about the fates of two Bengali families in America map the perplexing hidden forces that pull families asunder and undermine marriages. "Unaccustomed Earth," the title story, dramatizes the divide between immigrant parents and their American-raised children, and is the first of several scathing inquiries into the lack of deep-down understanding and trust in a marriage between a Bengali and non-Bengali. An inspired miniaturist, Lahiri creates a lexicon of loaded images. A hole burned in a dressy skirt suggests vulnerability and the need to accept imperfection. Van Eyck's famous painting, The Arnolfini Marriage, is a template for a tale contrasting marital expectations with the reality of familial relationships. A collapsed balloon is emblematic of failure. A lost bangle is shorthand for disaster. Lahiri's emotionally and culturally astute short stories (ideal for people with limited time for pleasure reading and a hunger for serious literature) are surprising, aesthetically marvelous, and shaped by a sure and provocative sense of inevitability. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.





Lahiri (The Namesake, 2003, etc.) extends her mastery of the short-story format in a collection that has a novel's thematic cohesion, narrative momentum and depth of character.The London-born, American-raised author of Indian descent returns with some of her most compelling fiction to date. Each of these eight stories, most on the longish side, a few previously published in magazines, concerns the assimilation of Bengali characters into American society. The parents feel a tension between the culture they've left behind (though to which they frequently return) and the adopted homeland where they always feel at least a little foreign. Their offspring, who are generally the protagonists of these stories, are typically more Americanized, adopting a value system that would scandalize their parents, who are usually oblivious to the college lives their sons and daughters lead. Ambition and accomplishment are givens in these families, where it's understood that nothing less than attending a top-flight school and entering an honored profession (medicine, law, academics) will satisfy. The stunning title story presents something of a role reversal, as a Bengali daughter and her American husband must come to terms with the secrets harbored by her father. The story expresses as much about love, loss and the family ties that stretch across continents and generations through what it doesn't say, and through what is left unaddressed by the characters. Even "Only Goodness," the most heavy-handed piece in the collection, which concerns a character's guilt over her brother's alcoholism, sustains the reader's interest until the last page. The final three stories trace the lives of two characters, Hema and Kaushik, from their teen years through their 30s, when fate (or chance) reunites them. An eye for detail, ear for dialogue and command of family dynamics distinguish this uncommonly rich collection.Agent: Eric Simonoff/Janklow & Nesbit Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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