We had been careful, and you had left nothing behind.
Lynn Abbey had said that Short-story writing requires an exquisite sense of balance. Novelists, frankly, can get away with more. A novel can have a dull spot or two, because the reader has made a different commitment. In a short story collection, main advantage for the reader is that, a short story collection is like a loose garland of distinct destinations. All along the journey, the reader can onboard anywhere, offboard anywhere. He doesn't have to follow the strict route mapped by the author. For the author, the main disadvantage is that as well. The author is supposed to create a unique world for individual stories without the luxury of time, pace and space.
In Unaccustomed Earth, it appears, Jhumpa Lahiri is very much successful in achieving this - maintaining the meticulous balance and rhythm. Technically, this is a collection of eight thematically aligned short stories, although strictly speaking, few of them touch the near novella limit. Still, the author manages to keep the readers glued to every story line, attached with their characters - their emotions, anguishes and passions. Praise to the author for the compelling narrative and fluidity of prose. Like Lahiri’s other books, here again, the protagonists are Indian Americans and the author explores the conflict between generations. Death, Loss and Isolation appears as recurring themes tuning the plot and are explored in ways unique to individual stories. The characters are absolutely human with their stories cutting across geography, across boundaries. Everyone has their secrets. And, in Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri is able to beautifully present the crevice in individual lives: the home and hole in an earth that we are not accustomed to, always.
It was an amazing read. Rarely do you enjoy every story in a collection. However, having read the two other books by the author, I would love if she moves out from this familiar territory of a repeating theme ... as we all eagerly wait for another gem. Don't we?
I had received the review copy from Random House India. Thank you Rukun for giving me this opportunity. You can buy this book at amazon or at flipkart in case you live in India.
Quotation Courtesy : http://www.quotesfun.com/726
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