In the stunning title story, Ruma, a young mother in a new city, is visited by her father, who carefully tends the earth of her garden, where he and his grandson form a special bond. But he's harboring a secret from his daughter, a love affair he's keeping all to himself.
In "A Choice of Accommodations", a husband's attempt to turn an old friend's wedding into a romantic getaway weekend with his wife takes a dark, revealing turn as the party lasts deep into the night.
In "Only Goodness", a sister eager to give her younger brother the perfect childhood she never had is overwhelmed by guilt, anguish, and anger when his alcoholism threatens her family.
And in "Hema and Kaushik" - a trio of linked stories and a luminous, intensely compelling elegy of life, death, love, and fate - we follow the lives of a girl and boy who, one winter, share a house in Massachusetts. They travel from innocence to experience on separate, sometimes painful paths, until destiny brings them together again years later in Rome.
©2008 Jhumpa Lahiri; (P)2008 Random House, Inc.
"Lahiri's enormous gifts as a storyteller are on full display in this collection: the gorgeous, effortless prose; the characters haunted by regret, isolation, loss, and tragedies big and small; and most of all, a quiet, emerging sense of humanity." (Khaled Hosseini)
"The author's ability to flesh out completely even minor characters in every story...is what will keep readers invested in the work until its heartbreaking conclusion." (Library Journal)
Larhiri is India's Jane Austen, and if read with that in mind you'll love these short stories. They are not to be read for a moral or social tidbit but for the dialogue. Her wordplay between family, friends and neighbors paint a beautiful tapestry. Pay attention to what is said and not said. If you do then you'll start to playback your own conversations between family, friends, and neighbors and be better for it.
My only critique is similar to my critique of Austen - conversation is important but constant chitchat never goes anywhere leaving you feeling like somebody gave you a $1 hamburger instead of the $10 one you ordered.
I'd say more but I'll reserve it for another conversation.
I would listen to anything Jhumpa Lahiri wrote. This book was very good, although I liked Interpreter of Maladies much more.
I initially enjoyed the first few stories in the book, both because they were something different, as well as getting a first glimpse into mixed Indian-American culture.
But as other reviewers have noted, the stories eventually seem to all sound the same, and by the end I couldn't wait to be done with this book.
I was further disappointed because most of the characters are miserable (to various degrees), and two of the tragic endings rely on completely implausible circumstances -- the resolutions come across as lazy, since the reader can imagine plausible circumstances that could have yielded the same results.
Real characters & truth in relationships connect us all. Beautifully written.
For once, a cast of decent readers! This is a beautiful book and I only wished each character would tell me more.
The book is a few short stories of second generation Bengalis in the US. Good storytelling that makes the mundane interesting.
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