Sunday, July 19, 2009
Read: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
I was prepared not to like this. There seem to be quite a mixed bag of reviews, with some noting that Lahiri is doing a rerun of tales of immigrant Bengalis adapting to life in America. But for someone who hadn't read anything by Lahiri for a while, it didn't quite matter if she were at all. For I ended up falling for the second half of the book - the stories of Hema and Kaushik. The first part was filled with readable and enjoyable stories with interesting characters. But it was in the collection of stories of Hema and Kaushik, “Once in A lifetime,” “Year’s End,” and “Going Ashore", that were breathtaking, Quite literally. Hema and Kaushik meet as teens, and the different stories are narrated by each of them, as they live their lives, first together under the same roof as Kaushik's family moves back to the US from Calcutta, then separately as adults. But as it so happens, their paths cross in Italy. I read part of the stories before cooking dinner, rushed through dinner with the husband and headed back to stuff my nose back in the book, to finish them. And when it ended, I felt I had to read the last few pages again. It was sweet, it was heartwrenching. And while I had this gut feeling that it would end the way it did, it still made me tear. Hema and Kaushik was such a bittersweet collection. But sometimes the best ones are.