About the author:
Jhumpa Lahiri is an London-born Indian author, whose work has won international acclaim including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and being shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize. She is also a member of the President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities, appointed by Barack Obama.
Life… life isn’t always only roses without the thorns. It usually never is, but sometimes, if things seem to be going well, then it would feel like it is. Most novels hinge around getting that rosy, all-is-well, happy ending that life, in that situation, might not get. We’re happy to read that, I guess, because we know that alternative thorny ending, and we wouldn’t want to wish it upon anyone, not even a fictional character. Reading a story that takes us into the skin of a character makes us feel like that character is more than that.
This is the first time I’m reading a Jhumpa Lahiri creation. I’ve heard of her works, and a couple sit in my wishlist still. The first thing I found linking the stories was the Bengali backgrounds, and then immediately, the foreign setting. This was both a positive and a negative about the book. Whereas I liked that the characters had accomplished something, were settled in life and had good things going their way too, the common backgrounds after a couple of stories became repetitive. Different, distinct characters yes, but they felt same after a while. The other thing that links the stories of course is that not all endings are happy. They’re more realistic than fictional. It was a twist perhaps, but one that went with the flow. So it felt nice to read even with the depth. For me, the best story, though I liked the story Unaccustomed Earth, was the one titled Only Goodness. A sibling’s world perhaps, but not one that I would find understanding in my life.
The book goes into the intricacies of relationships and pulls us in easily. Not a fun read, but it makes us return to it, mull over it. Thought-provoking and realistic, a book that’ll stay in my bookshelf for a long time to come.
Title: Unaccustomed Earth
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Genre: Short Stories / Fiction
Publishers: Random House India
Price: INR 295
(Oct 6th, 2013)