Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Recently, I finished reading Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. It's a collection of short stories. It's a set of eight stories divided in two parts. Every story describes bond and relationship, having the background of Bengali culture set in America.

Actually, I'm not fond of short story collection but reading Jhumpa Lahiri was an opportunity. Thanks to Random Reads, official blog of Random House India.

"Unaccustomed Earth" is the opening story which tells about the uncomfortable relationship of Ruma with her widowed father as he arrives to live with her. He is very fond of gardening and he tries to teach his grandson few things about Bengali Culture. Gradually his grandson develops a bond with him. At last, when he leaves, Ruma comes to know about his father's attraction towards a woman.

"Hell-Heaven" tells a married woman's attraction towards a much younger man. Her husband is a serious kind of person and she finds pleasure in that man's exotic company.

"Only Goodness" is about the brother-sister bond. Sister introduces her brother to alcohol at a very young age and finally he becomes an alcoholic.

"A choice of accommodation" is about a married couple Amit and Megan who travel to attend Amit's one time crush's wedding. They hope to understand each other well and discover the reality of their marriage.

In "Nobody's Business" Paul falls in love with a Bengali housemate who is already in a relationship, but Paul finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her.

Last three stories are written in a series form, about Hema and Kaushik. First story "Once in a lifetime" is a story about two Bengali-American children Hema and Kaushik who belong to different status as Kaushik's family has become a complete American. In next story "Year's End", Kaushik is suffering from mental pain of losing his mother and remarriage of his father. The last story "Going Ashore", tells about the relationship of Hema and Kaushik as adults.

No doubt that the stories are very well written but I found them extremely narrative and descriptive. Sometimes I found myself forcing to finish them as they are very long for short stories. My personal favourites are "Unaccustomed Earth", "Hell-Heaven" and "Once in a lifetime", first story in the series of Hema & Kaushik, as I found them more engrossing. If you like reading short stories and Jhumpa Lahiri, you can pick this book for sure!


  1. Had read this long time back but till date it remains my favourite read...Jhumpa Lahiri has done an exceptionally brilliant work here !!

  2. So many reviews in a month! I'm surprised Tarang! You are no doubt a Bookaholic! :D

    Nice review Tarang!

  3. nice review, u gave me a peep into almost all the stories :)

    her style is gud, nice and flowing