Book Reviews

Book Review: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Book Review Unaccustomed Earth Jhumpa Lahiri

Unaccustomed Earth is a collection of 8 short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri, the last 3 of which form a novella. The stories are about ordinary people, their relationships & secrets. A widower in his 70s visits his daughter and her family but keeps a new relationship secret while his daughter has her own secrets. A sister notices her brother is an alcoholic & carries the guilt of being the first to introduce him to the substance. A couple attempt to have a romantic weekend away without their kids while attending a wedding but not everything goes to plan. A woman reminisces about an Uncle who was adopted into their lives when she was a girl & the impact he had on them. A woman stays with her partner for reasons unknown to her housemate who is attracted to her. And finally, the novella – Hema and Kaushik – three stories from different points of view about how their lives intertwined. 

This is my first book by Jhumpa Lahiri & I cannot believe I haven’t read her all this time. I loved the stories, the layers in the relationships & the people, the things that are said & unsaid. I understood the pressures of Indian women in particular to be a certain way, to follow certain rules, or else be judged by Indian society no matter where in the world. Lahiri’s stories are set in the pre-internet days in the US & Europe but they pack a punch & are still relevant in this digital age. I especially loved the novella which is a journey of longing, life & death. 

We are nuanced beings. We are not black and white. And that’s exactly why I love when authors write character-driven stories that bring out the imperfections in us all. Lahiri’s prose is simple, yet elegant. Her observations of humans & society, astute. I’m off to get her backlist. If you love short stories, grab this one! 

My rating:

Book Details:

CategoryFiction, Short Stories
PublisherRandom House India
Publishing Date2008

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