Unaccustomed Earth – book review

Unaccustomed Earth is a collection of stories by Indian-American Jhumpa Lahiri that provide a mostly sentimental, elegant take on the lives of Indian (Bengali)-Americans. In this sense, it could be said to be a book about the immigrant experience, except that it’s not. Instead of focusing on culture, the stories are mainly about normal human experiences like love, relationships, loneliness and alcoholism with tradition being a steady backdrop to each story. Also, Lahiri manages to write about complex emotional issues without being overly gushing or weepy. There are some bits about alienation, though mostly with the older characters, and cultural pressure, but for the most part the characters are quite successful and educated who are comfortable with an American upbringing and an Indian background. The story about a girl who can only watch helplessly as her brilliant brother keeps falling to alcoholism, and the final part- 3 interrelated stories- are the most captivating, but each story is good.


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