Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Review: Unaccustomed Earth

Title: Unaccustomed Earth
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
My Rating: 4 Stars
Short Review: An interesting collection of short stories dealing with multicultural lives.

I read "The Interpreter of maladies" about 5 years ago and loved it. Then, I read Namesake, and though I found the theme repetitive, I still enjoyed the book. I hesitated before picking up The Unaccustomed Earth because I knew that Lahiri had again revisited the same theme - multicultural lives. Fresh-off-the-boat Indian parents, second generation kids that are caught between the values of the culture they are living in and values of the culture that their parents expect them to follow. How many different stories can you churn with the same theme?
Apparently, many! I was surprised when I picked up the book and realized that I was actually enjoying the book even though I had expected to find it repetitive. Lahiri manages to keep the stories interesting and the characters unique.
I usually prefer full length novels to short stories. Even before I understand the characters and get in to the feel, short stories are usually over and leave me feeling like something's lacking. But Lahiri somehow manages to keep the stories short and yet convey every little information that I require to "get into" the story.
At the end of the story, it feels like I've read a novel. I know the characters, I understand them well, I don't find the story incomplete.. I still yearn to read more about them but that happens with any good book, right? You don't want it to end.
The Unaccustomed Earth is a relatively quick read. The stories are longer than usual short stories but the language  flows beautifully and you are done with the book much before you actually want it to end.
I give it only 4 stars because I find the themes recurring. I wish Lahiri would explore new arenas. She is an amazing writer and I keep hoping she'd get out of her niche and experiment with a different subject.
What did you think of the Unaccustomed Earth?


bermudaonion said...

I prefer novels over short stories, but I am learning to appreciate short stories more these days. i really do want to try Lahiri's work.

Swapna said...

I do agree with you that Lahiri would do very well with other themes. Then again, I guess she feels comfortable writing what she knows!

Michelle @ 1morechapter said...

I really love Lahiri. I've read all three of her books and can't wait for another one to come out.