At first I thought Jhumpa Lahiri's short stories would be like those in "Arranged Marriage" (written by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni); both authors being from Bengali families, and thus mostly writing about Bengali families emigrated in the US. But it was not the case. There are common points, and particularly the bitterness and anxiety/sadness most characters feel, but "Arranged Marriage" is only good whereas "Unaccustomed Earth" is brilliant!! Short stories never moved me so much before. And there is nothing Bengali about me or my family! I guess people from every country can easily identify with the characters and feel concerned / upset by what is happening to them. Contrary to "Arranged Marriage" there are more US characters and mixed couples. Hence, it might be easier for Western readers to relate to the situations. Jhumpa Lahiri succeeds in making readers feel close to her characters in just a few pages by using simple sentences and detailed (but not boring!) descriptions. She found the ideal length for each story: they are long enough for us to perfectly understand people and situations, and at the same time they are short enough to be considered as proper short stories. Everybody should read them!
Une série de nouvelles en forme de tranches de vie qui mettent en scène avec délicatesse et sentiment, mais sans mièvrerie, quelques familles indiennes du Bengale nouvellement arrivées aux Etats-Unis. Les tensions créées par les circonstances ou les relations entre les personnages trouvent toujours une résolution à la fin de chaque histoire, parfois de manière inattendue. Des textes forts et subtils à la fois, comme la cuisine indienne...
Even though not quite as compelling as some of her previous novels, Unaccustomed Earth strikes a subtle balance between India, the land of childhood memories and games, but also of poverty frustration and repression, and the USA representing both a place where to grow and where to be forgotten.
I highly recommend this collection of short stories even though they are not all created equally. This first story, about a young woman trying to find her footing after the death of her mother, is perfection. Worth the price alone.