Sunday, 23 August 2020

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri Book Review!


Hi Readers! This week I read another book by Jhumpa Lahiri & liked it even better than Interpreter of Maladies. It is safe to say that I will be reading ‘The Namesake’ & ‘The Lowland’ soon enough! As for my 2020 Reading Challenge, I have only 4 categories to go. That involves reading Little Women, Shantaram OR The Jetsetters, A Gentleman in Moscow & A book mentioned in a movie which I still have no clue on. And from the extended goal, I have read 61 out of 75 books. Given both these challenges, I am SURE that I will complete both before the year ends. Now continuing with the review!



Unaccustomed Earth is a book of short stories which is the signature style of Jhumpa Lahiri & also the best way in which she shines. The book is divided into 2 parts. The first part contains FIVE short stories whereas the second part is one whole story consisting of THREE short chapters. Both the parts are equally beautiful & you get really sunk into it. All your emotions are overwhelmed while reading this book.


I have rated the eight short stories separately & the whole book at 4.5 stars!

Part 1:                                                                                                Part 2:

Unaccustomed Earth 3/3                                                                   Once in a Lifetime 5/5

Hell-Heaven 5/5                                                                                  Year's End 5/5

A Choice of Accommodations 4/5                                                       Going Ashore 5/5

Only Goodness 5/5

Nobody's Business 4/5


Most of the books that I read are such that I am capable of reviewing them. And, then there are books by authors like Jhumpa Lahiri & Khaled Hosseini that just leave me staring into space when I open a Word document. The feelings, emotions & sentiments conveyed in them are just so BIG to contemplate that it takes a lot of time to finally reach the reviewing stage & sometimes, it never reaches there.

I do not know how to gather my thoughts on Unaccustomed Earth. How do I write about my feelings on the unusual father-daughter story which is so sweet but also a bit awkward? How do I write about my feelings on the unrequited love of a married woman for a man who refers to her as his sister? How do I write about my feelings on a young couple who are adorable yet share miniscule life-altering arguments but nevertheless try to rekindle the romance? How do I write about my feelings on a caring elder sister trying to bring her younger brother out of his vices only for him to ignore her? How do I write about my feelings on a girl’s 3-year long boyfriend having a side affair for half that time with another woman? How do I write about my feelings on the story of Hema & Kaushik right from their adolescent acquaintance till the time they were grown up & how their paths eventually separated only after a few weeks of star-crossed bliss?

Even though a lot of these scenarios are not relatable to me, I can just as easily place myself in those situations without helping but shedding some tears. The pain of looking at your deceased mother’s glorious photographs. Feeling some kind of connection by wearing a crush’s old clothes that his parents gave to yours. The anxiety of leaving your 10-month old baby in the care of your previously alcoholic brother alone. The bitter-sweet feeling of seeing the person you loved but who could never be yours fall in love with someone else. The surprise of meeting an old acquaintance and having a lovely affair in a foreign land only to depart at the end of those blissful weeks to marry a guy you don’t love. The pain of loving someone so much that it physically hurts. Even if you were never in those situations, the writing is such that you could easily slip onto their shoes & feel all those emotions just as strongly as if it were happening to you.


Though the writing is simple with one sentence after other, when you look at it as a whole, it is just one big bundle of overflowing emotions. About estranged familial bonds coming together. About lost love. About an impossible unrequited love. About sibling connections. About common roots but uncommon futures. About fighting relentlessly for love only to lose. About seeking a companion in old age. About illnesses breaking a family apart but at times also mending them back together.

I might just still be overwhelmed by the power of words. Overwhelmed by the beauty of it. Overwhelmed by the idiosyncrasy of literature itself in its strongest form. Overwhelmed by the simplicity of elegance in all the short stories in Unaccustomed Earth.

Until next time,

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