Unaccustomed Earth

Unaccustomed Earth

4.11 (67,783 ratings by Goodreads)
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From the internationally bestselling, Pulitzer Prize--winning author, a superbly crafted new work of fiction: eight stories that take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand. In the stunning title story, Ruma, a young mother in a new city, is visited by her father, who carefully tends the earth of her garden, where he and his grandson form a special bond. But he's harboring a secret from his daughter, a love affair he's keeping all to himself. In "A Choice of Accommodations," a husband's attempt to turn an old friend's wedding into a romantic getaway weekend with his wife takes a dark, revealing turn as the party lasts deep into the night. In "Only Goodness," a sister eager to give her younger brother the perfect childhood she never had is overwhelmed by guilt, anguish, and anger when his alcoholism threatens her family. And in "Hema and Kaushik," a trio of linked stories-a luminous, intensely compelling elegy of life, death, love, and fate-we follow the lives of a girl and boy who, one winter, share a house in Massachusetts. They travel from innocence to experience on separate, sometimes painful paths, until destiny brings them together again years later in Rome.show more

Product details

  • CD-Audio
  • 129.54 x 149.86 x 22.86mm | 249.47g
  • Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • Unabridged
  • Unabridged
  • 0739341790
  • 9780739341797

Review quote

Unaccustomed Earth / Jhumpa Lahiri We have received the following praise for the above: " ""Lahiri's enormous gifts as a storyteller are on full display in this collection: the gorgeous, effortless prose; the characters haunted by regret, isolation, loss, and tragedies big and small; and most of all, a quiet, emerging sense of humanity." -Khaled Hosseini, author of "A Thousand Splendid Suns" and "The Kite Runner " "Pulitzer Prize winning Lahiri returns with her highly anticipated second collection exploring the inevitable tension brought on by family life. The title story takes on a young mother nervously hosting her widowed father, who is visiting between trips he takes with a lover he has kept secret from his family. What could have easily been a melodramatic soap opera is instead a meticulously crafted piece that accurately depicts the intricacies of the father-daughter relationship. In a departure from "Interpreter of Maladies, "Lahiri divides this book into two parts, devoting the second half to "Hema and Kaushik," three stories that together tell the story of a young man and woman who meet as children and reunite years later halfway around the world. The author's ability to flesh out completely even minor characters in every story, and especially in this trio of stories, is what will keep readers invested in the work until its heartbreaking conclusion. Recommended for all public libraries." -Sybil Kollappallil, "Library Journal" "The tight arc of a story is perfect for Lahiri's keen sense of life's abrupt and powerful changes, and her avid eye for telling details. This collection's five powerful stories and haunting triptych of tales about the fates oftwo 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 a 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. Lahiri writes insightfully about childhood, while the romantic infatuations and obstacles to true love will captivate teens." -Donna Seaman, "Booklist" (starred) "Stunning . . . The gulf that separates expatriate Bengali parents from their American--raised children-and that separates the children from India-remains Lahiri's subject for this follow-up to "Interpreter of" "Maladies" and "The" "Namesake," In the title story, Brooklyn-to-Seattle transplant Ruma frets about a presumed obligation to bring her widower father into her home, a stressful decision taken out of her hands by his unexpected independence. The alcoholism of Rahul is described by hiselder sister, Sudha; her disappointment and bewilderment pack a particularly powerful punch. And in the loosely linked trio of stories closing the collection, the lives of Hema and Kaushik intersect over the years . . . An inchoate grief for mothers lost at different stages of life enters many tales and, as the book progresses, takes on enormous resonance. Lahiri's stories of exile, identity, disappointment and maturation evince a spare and subtle mastery that has few contemporary equals." -"Publishers Weekly "(starred) (January 28, 2008) "Lahiri extends her mastery of the short-story in a collection that has a novel's thematic cohesion, narrative momentum and depth of character. . . . Some of her most compelling fiction to date. Each of these eight stories . . . concerns the assimilation of Bengali characters into American society. The parents feel a tension between the culture they've left behind 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. . . . 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. . . . An eye for detail, ear for dialogue and command of family dynamics distinguish this uncommonlyrich collection." -"Kirkus Reviews" (starred) (February 1, 2008) "From the Hardcover edition."show more

About Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. 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 many publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.show more

Rating details

67,783 ratings
4.11 out of 5 stars
5 37% (25,290)
4 41% (27,941)
3 17% (11,821)
2 3% (2,286)
1 1% (445)
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