2 Followers
2 Following
audreyhawkins

audreyhawkins

Unaccustomed Earth - Jhumpa Lahiri I found this collection uneven, but it's difficult to articulate why. I thought part one dreary and uninspired, while part two was achingly beautiful. Lahiri doesn't seem to be doing anything different in the two parts, so I'm at a bit of a loss as to why I felt so differently about them. Her writing is rich with observed detail, but I found her focus so circumscribed: usually focusing on one relationship in a Bengali-American family. She limns these relationships with sensitivity, but in the end I was unmoved by most of the stories. Although I will say that with the slow accretion of the stories, she paints a complicated, sensitive portrait of diaspora life in America. I was thinking that that was all I could expect–that I would just have to take the collection as a very good whole, rather than wonderful parts–until I got to part two, which completely changed my mind. These three stories weaving a larger one was everything I was looking for from Lahiri. It's not enough for me to have her tell me what her characters feel. I want her to make *me* feel it too. I think if an author is going to focus so much on her characters' inner lives and emotions, then she owes that to her reader. Maybe it was the expanded format of part two that allowed me to really connect with the characters. It could be that me and the short fiction of Jhumpa Lahiri will never be all that sympatico, and that I should skip any future short story collections in favor of her longer work.