Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
For those who love Lahiri's previous works, the first group of stories in this latest collection are up to par, full of the breathtaking tragedy of everyday life: aging, illness, the march of time. Her treatment of the immigrant experience and the separation of the generations is still there, but her themes have broadened Her characters are real, from new moms to elderly travelers to awkward grad students. Her prose is close to perfect, more noticeably stylized than in The Namesake but still fluid, rhythmic and accessible.
All that being said, [SPOILERS AHEAD] the book's final novella had the kind of weird tragic ending that made me feel like I'd been cheated or duped by the author. I felt it to be sort of a nihilistic cop-out that gave the whole novella a bit of a sour taste.
HIGHLIGHT THE TEXT BELOW IF YOU WANT MY THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING:
Basically, she sticks one of her characters on Phuket Beach during the Tsunami. I felt that this was a totally weird and unnecessary way to end a story that would have been plenty tragic and horrifying without such a gratuitious finale.
Still, no one's perfect, and despite this failing Lahiri may be as close as any writer gets in my mind....so still a collection worth reading.
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