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What a Notable! Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Now THIS was the kind of book I’d been seeking, one that had me scheming about how to get back to it, even when I really should have been doing other stuff.

Unaccustomed Earth” is on this year’s American Library Association Notable Books list. It’s a collection of short stories, set in contemporary America, about young people who are of Bengali descent. Typically, the stories explore issues of having two cultures to bridge, of finding love in those circumstances, of staying true to the best in one’s upbringing.

Apparently, I’m one of the last people to find out about Jhumpa Lahiri; she won the Pulitzer Prize for “The Interpeter of Maladies.” I was amazed by how many people to whom I’ve mentioned this book (and I’ve mentioned it to a LOT of people) have already read it, or have it on their bedside tables.

What makes these stories so good? One, the characters are so well-drawn. Two, the endings are hopeful in sometimes unexpected ways. Three, the language is so good that I didn’t even notice it. Four, she observes people so well. Five, the cultural issues are fascinating.

Thanks to the Notable Books committee for bringing this excellent book to my attention. I’m grateful.  Have you read it already?  What did you think?

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