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"Life isn't divided into genres. It's a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Unaccustomed Earth

I am now officially hooked on short story anthologies. Jhumpa Lahiri's new book is a collection of 8 of her short stories, all of which feature an Indian family or individual. Each of the stories is an elegy to love, life and loss.

The story that was most poignant for me was the title story. The relationship that Ruma and her father share so perfectly mirrors my own, it was almost frightening. Ruma unconsciously draws strength and comfort from her naturally reserved father. The father, a quiet and independent individual loves his daughter but is burdened with a secret he couldn't possibly share with her. What is left unspoken starts to drive a wedge between father and daughter. However, the unobtrusive strength of their love prevents any true unraveling of the relationship. Beautiful, heartfelt story..

What I enjoyed most out of Lahiri's stories was her ability to portray life as a 1st generation child. You love and respect your parents and your culture however you're faced with the disparate demands of an American lifestyle...something your parents will never truly understand no matter how much time they spend in this country. You feel as if you're trapped in a cultural middle ground, never truly belonging anywhere. Lahiri was able to capture these tumultuous emotions with such poignant precision.

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