Unaccustomed Earth – Book Review

Thumbing through the pages of this book, I recall few moments etched in my mind forever. I remember reading Enid Blyton’s series and Hamka’s Tenggelamnya Kapal Van Der Wijck underneath shady trees in an orchard behind Tok Nik’s house.

The orchard, which stays at the border of a padi field, has always been deserted and I found great solace there. I used to hide in the orchard after Quran’s classes – which was taught by Tok Nik, grandma’s late brother – not caring about the sweltering heat or stray monkeys and monitor lizards. I thought about that orchard all the time.

And I remember laying down on the earth of Weston Park in Sheffield, staring at the cloudless sky as the summer chases away the cold misery of winter and spring. Jhumpa Lahiri does exactly that to you. She writes a breezy masterpiece sending you back to that peaceful place you remember most in your life. I am spellbound, to say the least, with her ease and style.

Lahiri won a Pulitzer Prize for her debut collection of short stories, The Interpreter of Maladies, which I haven’t been privileged to read just yet. However, her second novel, The Namesake, receives accolades from the literary circle around the globe.

Unaccustomed Earth sits at the new arrival’s shelves both in MPH and Times bookstores. If I were you, I’d give it a try. Despite the steep price – since the book is still in a hardcover form – Lahiri gives you good reasons to part with your RM65.90. If patience is your forte and you can’t bear to spend that much just on fiction’s genre, you can wait another year for the publisher to come out with the book’s soft cover version.

The author divides the book into two sections. The first part consists of five short stories and the second part comes in a form of a mini novel.

The voice of the characters, though not persistent, soothes the reader’s mind. The short stories are mainly based on sad and unfortunate sequence of events in her characters life. Thus, if you are looking for a happy read, this should be not be the title of your pick.

The author disconcertingly tries to balance American and Bengali cultures in location sets between India and the United States. Her effort to achieve the said balance, though possible, is quite misguided in my personal point of view.

Lahiri peppers the dialogue in the book with a dash of reality which I find entertaining. She themes her book around love, friendship, relationship and the clash of western and eastern world. In the end, she captures her reader’s heart all the same.

All in all, Lahiri’s creativity in this book outshines every room for criticism in her story. Be that as it may, this blogger is partisan to British authors, so you might want to bear this in mind before you decide to buy the book. 🙂

  • Title: Unaccustomed Earth
  • Local Price: RM65.90(MPH)
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • Genre: Short Stories
  • ISBN:978-0-307-26573-9
  • Pages: 333


4 thoughts on “Unaccustomed Earth – Book Review

  1. Still unaccustomed to the earth that is so cruel to its inhabitants, but perhaps the earth is tired seeing all the cruelty being carried out on its face that it decides to be cruel too… what on earth am I blabbering about here, just want to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day really… hehehe…

  2. You should really read The Interpreter of Maladies, it’s really good and a lot better than The Namesake

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