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Showing 1-10 of 258 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 493 reviews
on October 22, 2015
Jhumpa Lahiri enables her readers to gain valuable insight into the cultural twists and turns endured by those who leave the land of their birth to live and work 'Unaccustomed Earth'. Her style is unabashedly that of the traditional 'storyteller', with the novel's structure drawing strongly on the form of the short story. Each section is a short story that could probably stand alone, but strung together they combine to tell a meaningful tale of human experience.

'Dialogue' is sparse in these tales, but Lahiri's use of language is rich, her powers of observation are astute, and her insight into human character is profound. These talents come together as Lahiri pulls back the curtain on a portion of human experience that -- while increasingly common in all parts of the world -- is not yet well understood anywhere at any level. It is significant that a writer of Lahiri's gifts has chosen this theme. Highly recommended.
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on January 1, 2015
This book is about experiences of Bengali immigrants in the United States who are part of a wealthy, educated milieu. It is an area that is very ripe for exploration and I don't have any problem with the fact that all of the stories focus on this particular group. Unfortunately I don't feel that Lahiri has done justice to her characters.

The first problem I have with this book is the writing. So many reviewers have commented on how "beautiful" it is but for me it was frustrating. Despite the abundance of detail the author uses very few descriptive words or literary techniques. I longed for it to take off and capture my imagination but it never did. It is spare to the point of being bland and mind-numbing. The other issue I had was the very liberal use of exposition which slowed the stories down immensely. The stories don't have much of an arc to them and I found myself wondering what the point was on many occasions.

Nearly all of the characters appear to be suffering from low-level depression and there is a repressed tone to the stories which seems to be deliberate. The major theme running through the book is the generation gap between parents and their children who were raised in America. Again, a very worthy subject for exploration, but the lack of genuine affection between these characters did not help me to care about them and their dilemmas. Most of the characters are extremely self-absorbed and display no generosity of spirit, humour or insight and, more gallingly, no recognition of their extremely privileged positions in both Indian and American societies. They remain wrapped up in their own problems, oblivious to anything beyond their insular little worlds.

Lahiri does try to introduce a wider perspective in the last story through Kaushik's career as a photographer but this sudden concern with bigger issues didn't ring true for me. In fact, I found it a bit offensive when Kaushik compared his own family's situation with the people he saw in refugee camps who had been forced to flee with just a few possessions. I realised how much I'd come to dislike this book by the end when I was supposed to be swept away (no pun intended) by the doomed love affair between Kaushik and Hema, but all I felt was relief that I'd finally reached the end of the book
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on February 13, 2017
I was given a copy of the Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri for Christmas. It is a selection of short stories that won the Pulitzer for fiction in 2000. I simply loved it - achingly beautiful stories. So, I ordered Unaccustomed Earth by the same author. Once again these are heart rending short stories. One reviewer said that the author explores the secrets of the human heart. So true.
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on November 13, 2015
This is one of the greatest authors of our time and this book is fantastic!! She writes about what she knows so her stories have a similar vein.....young Indian people who come to America (usually the northeast...most often the Boston area) and go to top universities and then become successful and participate in arranged marriages and try to raise children in the United States with their values. Some of the characters are successful and others fail. The writing is beautiful and seamless. I never want to put her books down. Exceptional!!!
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If you loved The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies here are more short stories by Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri. Lahiri draws from her experience as a Bengali immigrant to the US so has a kind of outside-in look at our culture and her own. (She was born in London to Bengali parents and moved here when she was two years old.) So Lahiri has a unique view of life as an outsider to both her own culture and American life. As such, she draws out the pain in family relationships, especially parent-child and husband-wife. Marriages can be arranged or not--and the uncomfortable fit of two people living together seems to be irrelevant to how they met, whether one meeting at the parents's house in Kolkata or a chance encounter at a university in the US.

I think these stories are not quite as masterful as "Interpreter of Maladies"--the first story seems to drag on a bit long and is almost heading to novella status. And they aren't quite as sharp and poignant, either. The same pain and longing for connectedness is there and you can reflect on your own intimate relationships as you read. If you liked "The Namesake" better than "Interpreter of Maladies" you may like this book a lot, because it has more in common, stylistically, with her bestselling novel.

I'm a big fan of many Indian authors such as Ved Mehta, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and others. I love short stories and Lahiri's are masterful. I hope she writes more because I just can't put down anything she writes.
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on April 3, 2017
I read this book for a book club. Usually I do not like short stories but these ones were intertwined with Bengali-American family life. I really enjoyed the book and the conversation about it was energetic and positive.
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on May 18, 2016
I had delayed reading this book and made a mistake in doing so! The characters are so thoughtfully developed, the reader is instantly drawn into the themes of self-identity and struggles for discernment and direction. The Bengali culture of the characters sets the framework but in a way that both universalizes and personalizes the experiences of each individual. The short-story framework allows Ms. Lahiri to quickly create new settings that seem simultaneously familiar and foreign--to both the reader and the characters themselves. Definitely worth reading and discussing with others.
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on December 2, 2016
This book was beautifully written, with vivid language and cultural references, tense settings and relationships, and abundant heartache. My only complaint was that sometimes it felt like it was the same story, being told several times over. They were short stories, but the themes and, all too often, the results were the same for these characters. I would have liked some range in their development. And at least ONE happy ending would have been nice
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Although this book was a different read coming from "first or second" generation Asians in the US, I found that as I continued to read the stories created sadness and negativity. I do not have a "Pollyanna" vision of life but everyone of these stories was very dark and negative. I continued to read until the end of the book but really did not want to as I knew the outcomes of the stories, only part I didn't know what how the individuals would get hurt or abandoned.
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on August 30, 2016
Though works of fiction, these are real people telling their stories in a way that draws you into a world both alien and familiar. Like all good stories, you end up learning something about someone else, at the same time you learn about that which is in you.
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