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Jhumpa Lahiri

Unaccustomed Earth

Jhumpa Lahiri Unaccustomed Earth
$11.20 New
 
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These eight stories by beloved and bestselling author Jhumpa Lahiri take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand, as they explore the secrets at the heart of family life. Here they enter the worlds of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers. Rich with the signature gifts that have established Jhumpa Lahiri as one of our most essential writers, Unaccustomed Earth exquisitely renders the most intricate workings of the heart and mind.

 “Glorious.... Showcases a considerable talent in full bloom.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Stunning.... Gorgeous.... Never before has Lahiri mined so perfectly the secrets of the human heart.” —USA Today

 

“A testament to Lahiri's emotional wisdom and consummate artistry as a writer.” —The New York Times

 

“Lucid and revelatory.... Both universal and deeply felt.” —The Washington Post Book World

 

“Graceful and devastating.... A gorgeous, meticulous and inviting work ... of an artist wise in enigmas and human mystery.” —The Miami Herald

 

“Powerful.... Profound.... Haunting.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

 

“Shimmering.... Lahiri's fiction delves deep into the universal theme of isolation.” —Fresh Air

 

“Splendid.... Lahiri handles her characters without leaving any fingerprints.” —The New York Times Book Review

 

“Beautifully rendered.... Reading [Lahiri's] stories is hypnotizing-like falling into a dream.” —People (four stars)

 

“Lahiri steps back from the action, gets out of the way, so the people and things in her stories can exist the way real things do: richly, ambiguously, without explanation.” —Time

 

“Powerful.... Lahiri is a genius of the miniature stroke and the great arc.” —Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune

 

“Beautifully crafted.... The remarkable poignancy Lahiri achieves in her work ... is the result of tying [her] examination of exile to other, more universal moments of essential sadness in our lives: the death of a parent, the end of a love affair, the ravages of alcoholism on a family.” —The Boston Globe

 

“Shimmering.... The literary prize committees should once again take note.... To read Unaccustomed Earth and only take away an experience of cultural tourism would be akin to reading Dante only to retain how medieval Italians slurped their spaghetti. Lahiri’s fiction delves deep into the universal theme of isolation.... Lahiri is a lush writer bringing to life worlds through a pile-up of detail. But somehow all that richness electrifyingly evokes the void.... It’s customary when reviewing short story collections to adopt a ‘one from column A, two from column B’ kind of structure–you know, the title story always gets a ritual nod, followed by a run-down of which stories are the strongest, which have just been included for filler. But another stereotype-confounding aspect of Lahiri’s writing is that there aren’t any weak stories here: every one seems like the best, the most vivid, until you read the next one.... Lahiri ingeniously reworks the situation of characters subsisting at point zero, of being stripped down like Lear on the heath. Unaccustomed Earth certainly makes a contribution to the literature of immigration, but it also takes its rightful place with modernist tales from whatever culture in which characters find themselves doomed to try and fail to only connect.” —Maureen Corrigan, “Fresh Air”

 

“Peripatetic, sweeping stories–Lahiri’s best yet–which move from Boston to Bombay and back again to evoke intricate topologies of emotion and characters who often feel more at home abroad. [They] possess the gravitational pull of short novels.... The final three stories, a trilogy in which an educated, thoroughly American girl’s choice of an arranged marriage over romantic love (a decision Lahiri deftly makes relatable) has cataclysmic repercussions, form the rhapsodic culmination to the collection. Lahiri, a master storyteller–who, along with Alice Munro, has arguably done more to reinvigorate the once-moribund form than any other contemporary English-language writer–comes full circle with this book, imbued as it is with a sense of passage, of life and death and rebirth.” —Megan O’Grady, Vogue

 

“Five of five stars.... Commanding and seamless.... There might not be a better book of fiction by an American writer published this year.... Extraordinary ... The long, absorbing ‘Unaccustomed Earth,’ the title story [deals with] familiar themes [for Lahiri]: the alienation that Indian immigrant parents feel toward their American-reared children and the guilt those children feel as they assimilate into the melting pot of the U.S. But as she proved in Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake, Lahiri writes so compellingly about these conflicts and pays such careful attention to the most emotionally telling of details that each story feels freshly minted.... The range of human experiences [Lahiri] chronicles is epic, again and again. [‘Hell-Heaven’ is] a universal story of yearning and unrequited desire, rooted so specifically and powerfully in a sense of time and place that we feel as if we are living right alongside the characters ... For all that’s comfortingly familiar about Unaccustomed Earth, though, one of its chief pleasures is that it shows Lahiri stretching in entirely new directions. In ‘A Choice of Accommodations,’ for instance, the author serves up a slice of Updike-ian Americana while managing to put her own distinct twist on the proceedings.... ‘Only Goodness,’ arguably the strongest story in the collection, gets under your skin like nothing Lahiri has written before. The first five stories are varied and accomplished [and the final three] are gripping and affecting ... Whereas so many story collections feel like uneven grab-bags, Unaccustomed Earth seems to have poured forth from the author’s pen in one swoop, and it eloquently circles back over the same sets of themes and motifs without growing tired. It’s like a symphony in eight movements.” —Christopher Kelly, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

 

“Four stars. Jhumpa Lahiri continues to probe culture and generational clashes among Bengali brethren living in the U.S. (and occasionally abroad) in her penetrating second collection.... No character exists in isolation in Lahiri’s new work, which is deeply aware of the power of blood ties; her book is a congregation of siblings, parents, spouses. Neither an exultation of nuclear families nor a cynical catalog of their dysfunction, Unaccustomed Earth is something braver and more difficult: a compassionate inspection of the fissures and disappointments of deep attachment ... trenchant. Whether they are middle-aged mothers who tire of years of keeping house in small Northeastern towns, thousands of miles away from Calcutta, or sisters who finally relinquish responsibility for alcoholic younger brothers, these characters are somehow redeemed by their courage to face the day, ‘as typical and terrifying as any other."" —M


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