by Jhumpa Lahiri

If a mark of a good book is whether or not the book made the reader cry at its sheer wonderfulness, then this is not just a good book, but a FABULOUS book.

Yes, I cried on multiple occasions while reading this book, and then I bawled my eyes out when I got to the last word of the last page of the last short story. In fact, I got a little snippy at my mom because she was trying to console me, and I just had to tell her “Give me 10 minutes alone to process the book and then I’ll be fine—I promise!”

Why did I cry, you ask? First, because the book just speaks to me. Honestly, I thought that Jhumpa Lahiri had written the book as a gift to me, because this collection of short stories parallels my life to a tee. I could relate with her tales of Indian and American cultures clashing, and her main character’s relationship with her father in the first story reminded me of my relationship with my own father.

In fact, I found the parallel between my life and her book a little astonishing when I saw that, in one of her stories, the main character’s brother has the same name as my little brother… except that, in Unaccustomed Earth, the brother is an alcoholic. So yeah, that scared me quite a bit, to the extent that I had to give an impromptu speech to my brother about the horrors of drinking.

That’s why, after finding all of these connections, I was surprised when I read the reviews for the book:

Stunning… Never before has Lahiri mined so perfectly the secrets of the human heart.”—USA Today.

Lucid and revelatory… Universal and deeply felt.”—The Washington Post Book Word.

Turns out I wasn’t the only one who felt connected to her characters and felt that her characters are pieces of myself, of my own thoughts, desires and feelings.

So go read this book! It really doesn’t take a long time to finish it, if that’s a problem, and it is so enriching and beautifully written that it would be a shame not to read it. Yes, at times, the plot line of some stories can be overly dramatic, but there’s a quiet honesty to each story and each character that makes me believe that these situations can and do happen; I just haven’t lived long enough to experience them.

Rating: 5/5

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8 thoughts on “Unaccustomed Earth

  1. I read this book late last year and absolutely loved it. I’m always drawn to authors who can make characters, about whom there’s nothing particularly special, completely compelling and captivating. I found myself continuing to think about these “people” long after I’d read their stories.

    • That’s true, these characters haven’t done anything particularly remarkable, and that’s what makes them so identifiable and realistic. Since you liked Unaccustomed Earth, do you have any suggestions for other books that are similar to it? I’d love to read more books like that.

  2. Other than Lahiri’s other collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, I don’t know of any other books that are so similar to Unaccustomed Earth, but if you’re looking for more great, understated, character driven stories, William Trevor’s, After Rain, is very good. I also just read Jennifer Egan’s, A Visit from the Goon Squad, and enjoyed it very much. It’s a novel, but each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view, so it still feels very similar to a collection of short stories.

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