Jhumpa Lahiri has already given us a Pulitzer Prize winning collection of short stories, and a best selling novel. I've been reading an advanced copy of Unaccustomed Earth, due out this spring from Knopf. This new work is a collection of longer stories, exquisitely written, about Bengalis in America, living lives slightly out of their comfort zones. The stories are told in vignettes constructed of memory, dissonance between cultures, generations, and settings, and a beautifully described present. Vignettes are punctuated by sharply drawn moments where deep emotional truths are revealed, or realized, in lines that are astonishingly direct. The characterizations are powerful and complex, and the prose is simply stunning. As a reader with a weakness for strong, well-crafted prose (e.g., Cormac McCarthy), I was impressed by these stories. I'm guessing they will have broad appeal, like her earlier work, and look forward to having this book in the shop, perhaps in April.
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