Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Unaccustomed Earth.

last night i finished Jhumpa Lahiri's latest novel, Unaccustomed Earth. yes, i'm probably the LAST indian person to read this, and i know i'm not the first to say she is one of my favorite contemporary writers.

but wow.

honestly, while the book, a compilation of short stories, has been the one thing i've looked forward to each night alone before heading to bed (of course it was put on hold during Kat's recent visit), keeping me up far too late into the night, it really brought me down, way down. but i'm a sucker for depressing stories.

Lahiri is best known for her earlier works. her debut release, the Interpreter of Maladies, a book of short stories, quickly and unexpectedly won her the Pulitzer prize). her sophomore release, the Namesake was a novel which captured the hearts + minds of many children of Asian immigrants (and was later made into a movie, which of course, is never as good as the book, but will likely be watched by many a high school student should it be made required/summer reading in the future).

Unaccustomed Earth (the title taken from a Nathanial Hawthorne poem), to me focuses on a single theme: regret. this permeates itself across each of Lahiri's tales of nuanced reality. the characters are so real, their situations so recognizable that most of her target audience who finds themself reading it can relate in some way or another. and that's where the magic happens.

each of her tales strike a distinct emotional chord, whether it's the widowed father and his seeming indifference to his only daughter, the strained relationships of arranged marriages, the reflections of an immigrant child fitting in after his parents leave for the homeland, a sibling relationship strained by the difference of parental expectations, or even a series of short stories that chronicles to childhood friends into adulthood.

each night, as i finished one story and prepared to turn the lights off, and turn to sleep, my mind fixated on the situations that might have rang immediately familiar, but eerily possible in an alternate, or future existence. i was left wanting more. but right when you get to that point, the author leaves you wondering. it's the idea of leaving a party when everyone wants you to stay, rather than sticking around after everyone wishes you had already left. Lahiri has clearly mastered this art in her literature.

so go read Unaccustomed Earth. let's just hope you're not already feeling lethargic. this one will only take you further. in a good way.

1 comment:

  1. I actually LOVED The Namesake the movie and thought that it took the story to a much higher level (that Lahiri's style is unable to reach, with all due respect). And I think Tabu and Irfan should get together in reality and make the universe look more organised!

    As for Unaccustomed Earth, I will give it shot, despite my reservations about Lahiri's writing. Afterall, if writers aren't given chances, there can never be justice in this world.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...