Thursday, April 03, 2008

Review: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Today in January Magazine’s fiction section, Diane Leach looks at Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. Says Leach:
And Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth is the literary equivalent of Château d’Yquem. For those of us worrying as the greats age -- Atwood, Oates, Roth -- wondering who might fill the gap, Lahiri is cause for hope. She gives strength to those of us quietly waiting for the pomo moment, with its eponymously named characters, drawings, and blank pages, to pass, for she need not resort to their trickery. Hers are perfectly placed words lining themselves into elegant sentences whose subject matter: family, mothers and daughters, assimilation, alcoholism, children, marital love -- touch us all.

Lahiri’s Bengali heritage informs her work, communicating worlds through the smallest of details. Saris fight slacks, a mother’s accumulated gold, intended for a future daughter-in-law, is lost to that most American of addictions, alcoholism. Food is a lush battleground of dals, rice, chocoris, bitter melon and Darjeeling tea. The drinking of tea or coffee represents more than taste; one is tradition; the other, cultural abandonment.
The full review is here.

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