Reviewed: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri


Unaccustomed Earth is Jhumpa Lahiri‘s yet another collection of most dazzling short-stories of all times making it evident the umpteenth time the kind of prodigious skills she portrays with her art of putting together in words the distressed hearts and confused minds of her characters that are struggling in unknown lands, striving to accept outlandish ways while clutching the bag of their traditional ways close to their hearts and ending up in those neverlands where they find themselves still slightly apart in the lands where they now belong.

Lahiri is an expert at writing about immigrant experiences, of people from Indian origin who have settled since some countable generations in America which I believe stems out from her personal life experience.

Unaccustomed Earth is a book put together with eight short stories, each of them rich with imagination and the light tug and pull that you experience in your heart as you read through the pages so efficiently written.

The stories:

Unaccustomed Earth

Nobody’s Business

Only Goodness

Hell and Heaven

A Choice of Accommodations

Once in a Lifetime

Year’s End

Going Ashore

are all bounty rich with experiences and emphatic emotions and characters are so well developed.

The last three stories are inter-linked and form one whole story of Hema and Kaushik and by far my most favorite of all the stories – about love lost and found and lost again. This comes from this story and is one of my favorites,

“That the last two letters in her name were the first two in his, a silly thing he never mentioned to her but caused him to believe that they were bound together.”

There is almost always a sweet-sad human touch to Lahiri’s prose and stories which one cannot stop but admire. Her writing style is utmost evocative, you almost go through the world she so carefully portrays. She is so apt with an innate caliber to put life in her characters that you aren’t just reading about them but you are in their heads, in their homes, in their lives, in all of those awkward and nostalgic situations, that you are almost living their private lives.

I absolutely love the way she points out raw unsaid emotions in myriad of situations that are otherwise missed by most writers of the genre. She kind of explores that void that exists in all of us of which we never talk and that is precisely what makes the reader connect with her writing as it leaves you a little raw and empty inside, provoking the most immaculately sensitive emotions in her readers.

Each word, each line is almost always soaked in her exemplary style which is simple yet most striking. The endings of her books are not explosively great or anything too grand like the perfectly happy endings type, and yet somehow, what this book offers, remains subtly in your memories longer than you can imagine.

When do I get to read her next book, is a question I ask?

Lastly, I feel it incomplete to have ended the review without sharing this piece of her writing which is going to remain in my memories,

“The sky was different, without color, taut and unforgiving. But the water was the most unforgiving thing, nearly black at times, cold enough, I knew, to kill me, violent enough to break me apart. The waves were immense, battering rocky beaches without sand. The farther I went, the more desolate it became, more than any place I’d been, but for this very reason the landscape drew me, claimed me as nothing had in a long time.”

If you happen to read it or have already read it, do share your thoughts below.

The Unread Book©


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