Book Review: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa LahiriUnaccustomed Earth: What it is about

The publisher says: “These eight stories by beloved and bestselling author Jhumpa Lahiri take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand, as they explore the secrets at the heart of family life. Here they enter the worlds of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers. Rich with the signature gifts that have established Jhumpa Lahiri as one of our most essential writers,Unaccustomed Earth exquisitely renders the most intricate workings of the heart and mind.

Unaccustomed Earth: What I thought

If I had known this was a book of stories, I would not have bought it, as I am not a keen short story reader. What a good thing I didn’t know! After reading The Namesake, I knew Lahiri could write a good story, and yes, that’s what she did again. Beautifully told stories all around the same topic: the lives of young Indian people whose parents had moved to the United States. Some people fitted in really well, others struggled.

This topic is approached in several different ways: a woman with a young family, whose Indian father may or may not move in with them now that he is older; a Indian friend of the (Indian) family who is having trouble settling in his US life (told from the viewpoint of the young daughter of the family), etc.

The last part of the book consists of three related stories: they are about the life of two people with Indian parents at different ages. I liked these stories best, as it was interesting to read how at different times in their lives the boy and girl/man and woman change and how their attitude towards each other changes.

These three stories came just in time, as I was getting slightly bored with the recurrent theme of Indian people trying to adapt to their new country.

The stories were all around 30 pages long, so while short stories, it allowed the reader to stay with the protagonists for a while. Recommended.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (It’s good to very good)

Number of pages: 352 (Dutch edition: Vreemd land)

First published: 2008

I got this: from a second-hand book stall

Genre: contemporary fiction, short stories

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

6 Responses to Book Review: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

  1. Nish says:

    i love those last 3 stories too.

    In my mind, Lahiri is a better short story writer than a novelist. I found The Namesake rather dull.

  2. Corri says:

    I love these stories – she is a brilliant short story writer, I agree

  3. harvee says:

    I do want to read this. Besides the stories, I like the settings.

    Book Dilettante

  4. I am like you, I avoid short stories… I want more depth. The fact that you rate this one so highly makes me rethink that decision 🙂

  5. Laurie C says:

    That’s often the way I read short story collections, too — by accident! I read Unaccustomed Earth, though, and remember liking them a lot.

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