Saturday, March 13, 2010

Unaccustomed Earth - Jhumpa Lahiri

Rating : 8.5/10

With this book, I have completed reading all of Jhumpa Lahiri's published books. When I read The Namesake, I immediately said she's one of my favourite authors. Interpreter of Maladies raised my appreciation to the level of awe, because some of her stories in that book made me cry. Every one of my blogger friends bet that I would love Unaccustomed Earth. And I did.

Unaccustomed Earth is darker, more tragic than her previous books, but Lahiri is magnificent as usual dealing with the overseas Indian experience. None of the stories in the book made me actually cry. Which is probably the one criticism I can possibly make of this book. But her stories have a knack of permanently settling to the mind and heart, so much that you recall her characters and tales several times.

The title story here, Unaccustomed Earth, is beautifully tender, very realistic and in its own way, tragic. I loved how the daughter re-examines her relationship with her father after her mother's death. Hell-Heaven is probably the best written of all the stories here. I especially loved how delicately Lahiri handled a tale of a married woman falling in love with a man who respectfully calls her his sister in law. 

Only Goodness, the tale of a sister who has to put up with her dear brother's drinking problems was perhaps too tragic. I was close to tears and even, angry at how unfair life was to the characters! When one can make the reader feel so strongly about a tale...that, I think, is the mark of a great writer.

Hema and Kaushik was interestingly written in three chapters, one told from Hema's point of view, the other from Kaushik's and the concluding chapter, with a powerful twist, is written from the narrator's perspective. This was very gripping and again, a wonderful, deep analysis of the emotions that the lead characters go through.

Lahiri's writing is definitely of the type I love. Her words have the ability to conjure vibrant images and her attention to detail, without being unnecessary or boring, manages to add so much to the characters and the plot. I'm definitely looking forward to whatever Lahiri writes in the future!


JoAnn said...

Just the mention of the titles has me wanting to reread the stories! So glad you enjoyed it. I wonder when her next book is coming out...

Vaishnavi said...

I have developed a sudden thirst for collected stories :) Will definitely give this one a read. Fab read :)

Hannah Stoneham said...

Sounds like a very interesting read - thanks for posting


Priya Iyer said...

I loved all three of jhumpa lahiri's books too.. can't wait for her next :)

Tanu said...

I like how Lahiri has captured both sides of the coin in her stories. The stories in Interpreter of Maladies were more from parents' point of view and Unaccustomed Earth is all about the life of the children. You wrote a wonderful review.

I have to admit that the story of Hema and Kaushik made me cry.

Kals said...

Hannah - Thank you for visiting my blog and I definitely recommend any of Lahiri's books :)

Priya - Me too! :)

Tanu - That's an excellent little analysis :) And thank you. Hema and Kaushik broke my heart..but I didn't cry.

Mrs. Sen's and Mr. Pirzada Comes to Dine in Interpreter of Maladies made me weep like never before! Lahiri is a gifted writer :)

Kals said...

JoAnn - I loved this one and I hope her next book is out fast! :)

Vaishnavi - Collected stories aren't usually my kind of thing but Lahiri has sort of changed it :)

Veens said...

"I TOLD yOU SO"! Is the only thing I can say :)

Kals said...

:D LOL. You were right ;)

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

This looks and sounds fantastic! Wow.... I am looking into this one further!

Kals said...

I would definitely recommend it to everyone :)

Thanks for visiting my blog, Sheila. I love yours!

Norma said...

I agree with you Hell-Heaven was the best and the first one is also good, relaistic, was good food for my thoughts.

But rest of them i felt quite dissappoiting. I felt shouting at parents in the 'only goodness'. But one thing I observed in many of the stories the relationship between parents and kids was quite formal or less described. Isn't it?


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