Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri is a shining example of her unmatched literary prowess. The book is a fantastic work of fiction. It is her second collection of short stories, after the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner Interpreter of Maladies. Unaccustomed Earth was also the No. 1 New York Times Bestseller in 2008.
Overview of Unaccustomed Earth
Similar to other works by Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth also revolves around the lives of Bengali American characters. The book focuses on how they dwell in and deal with their mixed cultural environment.
The first part of stories focus on second generation immigrants making and remaking their lives. Unaccustomed Earth also portrays their loves and identities, while fluctuating between England and America. The book follows the lives of various human relationships. The relationships of brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, friends and lovers are seen. These take us from Boston to London to Mumbai and Kolkata.
The second part of stories of Unaccustomed Earth deals with an unusual, unrequited and silent love story. The love exists between Hema and Kaushik. Due to their families being close, they develop a deep connection. But never do they fully realize it nor do they acknowledge it.
Unaccustomed Earth can easily be named, “A Complete Guidebook on How to Survive in America. Emotionally.” Personally, I loved how Lahiri chose the different kinds of human relationships. Starting from a great story of a father-daughter duo, she explores gender roles, sense of obligation and love. While exploring, she portrays the clear distinction of these in America and India.
Of all the stories in the first part, I loved A Choice of Accommodations the most. The way a common husband-wife duo re-discover their love is quite relatable. When compared to one’s own life or to someone known, one can easily feel that. I loved the fact that despite their bustling life, they never let go of their feelings for each other. They wanted and needed to stay with each other.
Hema and Kaushik’s story of Unaccustomed Earth was my personal favourite. It can be a bit confusing sometimes, but the story shows that for love to exist, it’s not important to stay together. You wouldn’t even be able to express love, but your emotions will always reside in your heart. It was saddening that Hema and Kaushik were never able to unite. I found myself craving for their togetherness but alas!
Moreover, I was absolutely awestruck at how brilliantly Lahiri brings the philosophical touches in her stories. While reading about the stories of some distant fiction, one is bound to relate to the happenings in them. And also, one will be able to draw comparisons with their own lives.
Publisher: Random House India
Price: 343 INR on Flipkart, 310 INR on Amazon