Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Synopsis:
A collection of short stories featuring Indian American protagonists.

Review:
Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel The Namesake was one of my favorite books I read the year I was pregnant with Superfast Toddler, and I was so happy to get Unaccustomed Earth for Christmas this year.

What I love about Lahiri’s stories is that I never feel shortchanged by them. No matter how good a short story is, for the most part I always wish I were reading a novel instead. Short stories are too brief, too concise, to economic for me. I prefer to languish in my reading. Somehow, Lahiri manages to create short fiction that feels novelistic. I get lost in her stories, and never feel like they’ve ended too soon.

The second half of the book is a love story told in three parts: from the point of view of each of the lovers, and then in the third person as their love affair plays out. It’s basically a novella, yet each section offers its own unique satisfactions and pleasures. She captures love and passion so well, not to mention the (usually) inevitable heartbreak.

I’m teaching a college writing course this spring and planning to use one of Lahiri’s stories. I have no idea yet which one, because they’re all so marvelous. Her effortless prose style has beauty but no ostentation, but in her simplicity she captures so much complexity. I can’t think of anyone better from whom to learn the craft of fiction writing.

3 thoughts on “Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri”

  1. I haven’t read Unaccustomed Earth, but I loved Interpreter of Maladies and I agree: I never felt short-changed by the short stories 🙂

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