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Publisher's Summary

From the internationally best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, a superbly crafted new work of fiction: eight stories that take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand.

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.

Critic Reviews

"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)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    221
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    125
  • 2 Stars
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    27

Performance

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    81
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    34
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    8
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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Simply Beautiful

I'm a huge fan of Lahiri's work - her writing is always emotional, and Unaccustomed Earth is no exception. The characters in this book are wonderful - I really enjoyed getting to know them, and I found myself looking forward to my drives so I could spend more time with them. The narration is spot on, and this books lends itself to audio well due to the emotions that run through the stories. Stellar writing, a book you can really lose yourself in.

40 of 40 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

My favorite recent book

5 stars are not enough for this collection of short stories, whose effect is hard for me to describe. The landscape of these stories is the middle class life of first generation Americans (adolescents and adults) and their Bengali parents. The events in their lives seem strikingly ordinary: no different from those that any of us may have experienced. And yet, the way that Lahiri conveys the characters' pleasures, desires for human connection, losses, secrets, and nostalgia are the real subject of these stories. My favorite stories were the three inter-related tales centering on Hema and Kaushik. They know each other as children; have a brief, but distant re-acquaintance as adolescents; and re-connect with a profound love as adults. You might want to listen to this book in private. Like me, you might occasionally find your eyes getting moist as you listen. Superb narration, by the way.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautifully read and beautifully written

Jhumpa Lahiri's stories are moving and make real for the outsider the conflicts and contradictions of first and second generation immigrants in the highly educated and priveleged classes of America's haute bourgeoisie. I find her stories fascinating and complex but completely accessible, real and believable. THe readers were excellent and added to my satisfaction at hearing a book so well conceived and well read.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great collection of stories

I highly recommend this new collection of short stories from Jhumpa Lahiri -- the characters are very authentic and the plots of each story have rich and varied directions and surprises, despite all having a common thread of finding one's way in a new place.

I should also note that in general I'm not a fan of short stories, however these are almost like mini-novels with fully realized story arcs -- something that I find is often undercut in much short fiction.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Taryn
  • Suffern, NY, United States
  • 04-19-15

Sarita brings Jhumpa's stories to life

I like to listen to books that are about different cultures rather than read them due to the correct pronouniations of unfamiliar names, places and things. I love Lahiri's writing, she brings depth to simple stories that we can all relate to, we all struggle with the same family dynamics and emotions. She deftly brings to life those emotions and challenges we all face. I usually dont like short stories, however, some of these relate to each other. Sarita's narration was excellent, Ajay's was not as good. I enjoyed every moment listening to this book!

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Eric
  • MALIBU, CA, United States
  • 11-18-09

Not so luminescent

Well written and narrated but not especially compelling stories. Well, I only made it through first three, so maybe the later ones were better. Sort of like a softer-spoken Anita Shreve.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Captivating novellas

I found myself absorbed in each of the stories about immigrant families. I was unprepared for the fact that the stories were not woven together in the end but found that I forgave that due to the captivating nature of each one. Excellent narration.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

I don't think it was clear...

... that these were all Indian stories. Not that I mind they were Indian stories, but that was a big aspect of almost every story. The summary of the book makes it sound like it's stories from around the world, but it's not (assuming the last few stories went the same way, because I couldn't finish). They are all about Indian kids, with strict parents, getting out into the world.

Again, wouldn't have been a problem except the summary didn't make this clear at all.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • DRYDEN, NY, United States
  • 07-31-17

lacking something

well written but lacking something more realistic. got through four of the stories. Couldn't finish.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Beatriz
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • 10-29-15

More about the same.

Although it's very well written and performed, this book doesn't add anything different from the other Ms. Lahiri's books I've listened before.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful