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Unaccustomed Earth

Beginning in America, and spilling back over memories and generations to India, Unaccustomed Earth explores the heart of family life and the immigrant experience. Eight luminous stories - longer and richer than any Jhumpa Lahiri has yet written - take us from America to Europe, India and Thailand as they follow new lives forged in the wake of loss.
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Interpreter of Maladies sold 50,000 copies in the UK and over 1,000,000 in the US. The Namesake sold 30,000 copies in the UK and in the US sold over 1,000,000 and spent 48 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list Unaccustomed Earth debuted at Number One in the New York Times bestseller list, and Knopf have sold in hardback 200,000 copies Winner of the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. The judges were so impressed that they dispensed with a short-list altogether

About the Author

Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London of Bengali parents, and grew up in Rhode Island, USA. Her stories have appeared in many American journals and her first collection, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize 2000 for Fiction, the New Yorker Prize for Best First Book, the PEN/Hemingway Award and was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Award. Her novel, The Namesake, was published in 2003 and is now a major motion picture from the director of Monsoon Wedding. Jhumpa Lahiri lives in New York with her husband and two children.


The gulf that separates expatriate Bengali parents from their American-raised children-and that separates the children from India-remains Lahiri's subject for this follow-up to Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake. In this set of eight stories, the results are again stunning. In the title story, Brooklyn-to-Seattle transplant Ruma frets about a presumed obligation to bring her widower father into her home, a stressful decision taken out of her hands by his unexpected independence. The alcoholism of Rahul is described by his elder sister, Sudha; her disappointment and bewilderment pack a particularly powerful punch. And in the loosely linked trio of stories closing the collection, the lives of Hema and Kaushik intersect over the years, first in 1974 when she is six and he is nine; then a few years later when, at 13, she swoons at the now-handsome 16-year-old teen's reappearance; and again in Italy, when she is a 37-year-old academic about to enter an arranged marriage, and he is a 40-year-old photojournalist. An inchoate grief for mothers lost at different stages of life enters many tales and, as the book progresses, takes on enormous resonance. Lahiri's stories of exile, identity, disappointment and maturation evince a spare and subtle mastery that has few contemporary equals. (Apr.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

'Lahiri's enormous gifts as a storyteller are on full display ... gorgeous' Khaled Hosseini 'Probably the most influential writer of fiction in America' Financial Times 'Contains some of the best, most beautiful fiction written this decade - the kind that will be read 50 years from now' New Statesman 'It's difficult to think of a contemporary writer who gives her characters so much dignity ... Fiction of matchless restraint, yet also of rich, complex lives and credible characters' The Times

All eight of the longish stories in Lahiri's third book deal with various male/female relationships--father/daughter, husband/wife, brother/sister, roommates, step-family, childhood friends--in the context of the immigrant experience. Specifically, Lahiri examines the gulf between first- and second-generation Bengali immigrants--the expectations, often unmet, about, for instance, dress, achievement, and marriage. Lahiri's strengths are her characterizations and knack for universalizing the particular. The last three stories feature characters who meet as children, when Hema's parents share their house with Kaushik's family. Kaushik finds himself sharing more than just his house when, after his mother's death (a recurring theme), his father remarries a woman with two younger daughters. Sarita Choudhury and Ajay Naidu alternate reading the female and male voices, with accents waxing and waning as the story demands. Lahiri won a Pulitzer Prize for her 1999 collection The Namesake. Unaccustomed Earth earned a front-page review in the New York Times Book Review and debuted at the top of the best sellers list, making it a no-brainer for all library collections.--John Hiett, Iowa City P.L. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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