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Digging to America: A Novel | [Anne Tyler]

Digging to America: A Novel

Two families, who would otherwise never have come together, meet by chance at the Baltimore airport: the Donaldsons, a very American couple, and the Yazdans, Maryam's fully assimilated son and his attractive Iranian wife. Each couple is awaiting the arrival of an adopted infant daughter from Korea. After the instant babies from distant Asia are delivered, Bitsy Donaldson impulsively invites the Yazdans to celebrate.
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Publisher's Summary

Anne Tyler's richest, most deeply searching novel, a story about what it is to be an American, and about Iranian-born Maryam Yazdan, who, after 35 years in this country, must finally come to terms with her "outsiderness".

Two families, who would otherwise never have come together, meet by chance at the Baltimore airport: the Donaldsons, a very American couple, and the Yazdans, Maryam's fully assimilated son and his attractive Iranian wife. Each couple is awaiting the arrival of an adopted infant daughter from Korea. After the instant babies from distant Asia are delivered, Bitsy Donaldson impulsively invites the Yazdans to celebrate: an "arrival party" that from then on is repeated every year as the two families become more and more deeply intertwined. Even Maryam is drawn in, up to a point. When she finds herself being courted by Bitsy Donaldson's recently widowed father, all the values she cherishes - her traditions, her privacy, her otherness - are suddenly threatened.

A luminous novel brimming with subtle, funny, and tender observations that immerse us in the challenges of both sides of the American story.

©2006 Anne Tyler; (P)2006 Random House Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Digging to America succeeds on many levels - as a satire of millennial parenting, a tribute to autumn romances, and most important, an exploration of our risible (though poignant) attempts to welcome otherness into our midst." (Atlantic Monthly)
"Handling time with a light touch, Tyler creates many blissful moments of high emotion and keen humor while broaching hard truths about cultural differences, communication breakdowns, and family configurations. This deeply human tale of valiantly improvised lives is one of Tyler's best." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (311 )
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4.0 (36 )
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  •  
    Everett Leiter New York, NY 08-20-06
    Everett Leiter New York, NY 08-20-06 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Life in transition"

    If you (or someone dear to you) has ever felt like a permanent outsider in another culture, you are sure to find this book fascinating. By coincidence, two families happen to meet at a Baltimore airport. They are both there for the same reason. Each is adopting a baby arriving on a flight from Korea. One family is mainstream American (the Donaldson-Dickensons) and embraces multiculturalism, even if somewhat clumsily and offensively at times. The other family (the Yazdans) are Iranian-American. The baby's grandmother, Maryam Yazdan, is attractive, stylish, and somewhat elusive. She, in particular, seems caught between trying to blend in and not wanting fully to blend in with aspects of American culture that might make some of us cringe. Each character in the story presents with a unique predicament around the theme of cultural transition: Maryam's son, born in America, but uncertain about Iranian customs; the two babies, each brought up aware of their Korean origins, but minimally interested in that fact; garrulous Bitsy Dickenson (or is it, Donaldson?) who embraces her child's Korean birth and welcomes the Yazdans' Iranian background with occasionally overbearing curiosity; etc. This is a warm, sometimes funny novel about all kinds of transitions, including growing up and growing old. Like most of Anne Tyler's writing, "Digging to America" is effortless to read (or listen to). She seems keenly to have observed her characters, rather than to have invented them. Blair Brown's reading is superb.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Book and Movie Lover Austin 05-31-06
    Book and Movie Lover Austin 05-31-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyable Listen!"

    This was an enjoyable audiobook. Starts off in an airport, where two young American couples are meeting their adopted Korean baby girls for the first time. One couple is of Iranian descent while the other is very "American". Their chance meeting leads to annual reunions which eventually lead to a close friendship between the families. The book wanders through cultures, through life stories and through time, often going back and forth in an easy way which entertains and offers insight into the lives of the characters and into their cultural heritage. It's an easy listen, relaxing and good for a rainy weekend.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane Ithaca, NY, USA 05-25-06
    Diane Ithaca, NY, USA 05-25-06
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    "Tyler is in top form"

    As a longtime fan of Anne Tyler, and a former 15 year resident of Baltimore, I found her latest volume her best in many years. With a light, observant style, she explores a variety of engaging themes: adoption, modern parenting, assimilation, cultural identity and American-Iranian culture. Her wry asides about Baltimore neighborhoods and middle class culture are always a treat. Blair Brown captures the Iranian phrasing and lilt beautifully too, so it's a pleasure to listen to.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Morgan CHARLOTTE, MI, US 05-08-12
    Nancy Morgan CHARLOTTE, MI, US 05-08-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Another Satisfying Book by Anne Tyler"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Digging to America to be better than the print version?

    I didn't read the print version.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I love the characters - how real and believable they are.


    What does Blair Brown bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She uses accents to give personality to the characters.


    Any additional comments?

    Anne Tyler books lend themselves well to audio books. Her characters feel so real when the books are read out loud.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vern Cincinnati, OH, United States 02-23-11
    Vern Cincinnati, OH, United States 02-23-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Loved It!"

    When I read some of the reviews of this book, I wondered if the reviewers had listened to the same book I had. I enjoyed it as much as any of the other Anne Tyler books I've read/listened to. Blair Brown did an excellent job with the narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    02-13-11
    02-13-11 Member Since 2009
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    "The immigrant experience"

    Interesting that this book generates such divergent reactions. I was one of the people who enjoyed it and found the characters and their day-to-day lives realistic and, in the end, touching. I recognize that, at times, it was a bit trite, but the struggle to fit in to a strange culture and to make real friendships with people across cultural lines was, for me, quite convincing. I also thought the narrator did an excellent job, including the names and words in Persian (not that I could judge their accuracy).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl Smith 09-11-09
    Carl Smith 09-11-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "did not get into this one"

    I read the other reviews and generally agree that the characters didn't become important to me but that if I were going through cultural changes, the book would probably mean a lot more.

    I just wonder if Tyler's characters are sometime too real for me -- the normal stuff of daily life and relationships but not people who make me think or wonder about things. I loved the Accidental Tourist but that might have been because George Guidall narrated it exceptionally well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kassie Kansas City, MO, USA 02-01-07
    Kassie Kansas City, MO, USA 02-01-07
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    "A Must Read"

    I loved this book! Once again Anne Tyler has written a wonderful and engaging novel. Definitely one of her best.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane Shreveport, LA, USA 08-05-06
    Diane Shreveport, LA, USA 08-05-06
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    "Usually my favorite author"

    Although it was OK, I found Digging to America disappointing when compared to other books by Ann Tyler such as A Slipping Down Life or Accidental Tourist. Her strength is the depth of her characters. You feel you know them personally. The characters in this book seemed shallower and although her stories are usually not as strong as her characters, this story was weaker than her norm to me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia Countryside, IL, USA 07-19-06
    Patricia Countryside, IL, USA 07-19-06
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    "Let down"

    As a long time Tyler fan, I approach with enthusiasm every work her pen produces. In agreement with other reviewers, this one was a let down. I kept listening in hope, but it never grabbed me. The usual engaging chuckles and sparks of humorous genious her writings provide just weren't there for me this time. There were a few moments when I recognized the style of the writer I've grown to enjoy and respect, but on the whole, I felt "let down" and wishing I had used my credit on something else.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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