Have you ever tried a curry in an Indian restaurant aboard? They usually are too mild for Indians but too spicy for others. That is exactly how the characters of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth were. It is a short story collection, like her debut book, Interpreter of Maladies, based on 2nd generation Bengalis (natives of Bengal region of India) , living in the land of opportunity.
The book has 2 parts, where the part I is the random stories and part II is the story of Kaushik and Hema. Hema and Kaushik met in childhood through their families, where Hema and her family played host to Kaushik and his family. Though they grow apart and in different worlds, they cross roads 2 decades later in Rome. They find the intimacy that was earlier missing in their lives, right before the important life phrase that was already framed by them.
In the part One, the first story shares its name with the book. The character has a Jhumpa’s signature complications. However my favorite story is “Only Goodness” which is the story of a complex relationship between siblings where the younger brother gets in to drinking problem, that, a traditional Bengali family in the US tries to deal with. The sister hides her guilt of introducing alcohol to the brother which at that age seemed harmless and fun.
Bonus Read: Book Review: The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (click on the Image below to read the post)
In most of the stories, you think the gap between the characters has been mended, their conflicts has been resolved but right before the end, it goes otherwise. As a reader, you can’t protest it, because there are human elements which protects the action, an emotional propaganda which eliminates the rationality and sometimes impulsive decisions that subsides the logic.
I recommend Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth to readers of all age, culture and origins. I have rated it 4 out of 5 star in goodreads.
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