Monday, May 12, 2008

Unaccustomed Earth By Jhumpa Lahiri

After reading her two earlier (commercially) published works, Interpreter Of Maladies and The Namesake, I was eagerly waiting for Jhumpa Lahiri's next one - Unaccustomed Earth. And once again, I was spell bound by her literature. Unaccustomed Earth is truly wonderfully written and keeps the short story writing to the top. She is a master (short) story teller and this latest collection of short stories is another example of it. The best part about her short stories is that her characters are well defined and complex, her handling of the words is marvelous, her stories are never incomplete and they feel like a full novel.

The short stories in this work are:-
Unaccustomed Earth
A Choice of Accommodations
Only Goodness
Nobody's Business
Hema and Kaushik:
Once in a Lifetime
Year's End
Going Ashore

First five stories are individual in themselves while the last three are interconnected. In the title story, a young mother Ruma, is visited by her father, who forms a bond with his grandson. All the while, Ruma is unable to make a decision to ask him to stay with them or not and his father, on the other hand, is harboring a secret love affair. In "Hell-Heaven", a young girl narrates the story of her mother falling secretly in love, outside of her marriage, all the while not accepting it but feeling emotions of a jealous lover when her love marries another girl. 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 tries too hard to get her brother all the support to come out of alcoholism and in the end it threatens her own family. In "Nobody's Business", a young girl makes a wrong choice in love while her family is looking out eligible suitors for her and her roommate hesitantly tries to save her, nearly getting himself dammed in the whole process. And Hema and Kaushik, a trio of linked stories — is about the lives of a girl and boy who, one winter, share a house in Massachusetts. They travel from their foolish childhood to adulthood on separate painful paths, until destiny brings them together again years later.

I would say that I started this book with a prejudice and finished with it as well. But it never came in my way of reading this book from another point of view. It was just that I could not find faults in her writing - for me a fault is a boring phase through the book, a predictable story line or a complete lack of words and emotions. She kept me involved in the book all the while and never once I felt like what-am-I-reading. And for me that is a big thing while reading something. She has surely kept her high short story writing status well and truly intact throughout this book. Some people would say that she writes about confused Indian immigrants again and again and re-using her character set but then there is no deny from the fact that she is doing it wonderfully well.


Anonymous said...

I like your blog,
but it looks more
like a billboard or
a sales fair. ;-))

Terry Finley

Ashish said...

Thanks for stopping by.
It's always a trade-off between having a blog clear of ads and trying to make a bit of money on the side :-), so let me tweak this a bit.

Cath said...

you are welcome to join us at our Lahiri group