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Unaccustomed Earth (Jhumpa Lahiri)

3.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is a well-written, thoughtful collection of stories focusing on Bengali men and women, largely in the beginning of middle age, who are reflecting on their Indian parents, understanding the responsibilities of parenthood, as well as the full implications of immigration and separation, now that they are becoming parents, and adults, themselves. The tension of culture — generational misunderstandings, the choice to marry an American or adhere to tradition — is a delightfully constant backdrop.  Further, Lahiri has a compelling command over the English language, and every description feels precise and artful.  Yet these stories are ultimately not as compelling or memorable as those in other Lahiri works.  The collection is a quick and enjoyable read, but ultimately, I can’t help feeling that this collection should be celebrated as a technical accomplishment in writing rather than a truly artistic expression of plot and character.
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The Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri)

5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Spare, precise, vivid and powerful, this is one of my favorite short story collections.  The overarching themes of immigration, relocation, loss, and recreation of identity explored here perfectly showcase Lahiri’s powerful voice and an undeniable attention to detail.  We are immersed in stories that range in location from India to the East Coast and feature refugees, lonely children, Indian tourists visiting India, couples regretting arranged marriages or just coming to terms with the loss of a child.  Though this was her debut collection, it won the Pulitzer, and is an emotional, memorable tour-de-force that will linger with you long after you’ve finished reading.

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