Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Review by Shwetha H S

A story has either a happy or sad ending depending on where, when and how you end it. This is proven right by Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories in Unaccustomed Earth. This book is in two parts.

First part has five individual short stories.

  1. A woman, who is pregnant with her second child, does not know how to deal with her widowed father who is moving on with his life on his own and falling in love in with another woman.
  2. A child, in presence of her father, witnessing her mother praising and falling in love with another man who is unaware of it and later watching her mother bad mouthing about him just because he married some other girl he loved.
  3. A man telling his beloved wife about a crush he had on a girl, whose wedding they are attending, only after she guesses and asks why he had not told her.
  4. A younger brother going back to being alcoholic after rehabilitation and ruining his sister’s married life.
  5. One housemate helping out another to find the truth about one’s cheating boyfriend.

Second part is further divided into few chapters which make a single story. Narration of this story is very interesting. The author makes you feel that you, Hema and Kaushik are sitting together. Just like couples in the movie When Harry Met Sally tell you how they met, the two characters tell you, one after another, how they met. First Hema narrates and then Kaushik. By the time Kaushik starts his narration, you fall under the impression that they might be corresponding through mail. But after Kaushik, the author takes over the narration. That’s when you realize they were merely discussing their past with each other.

As expected from Jhumpa Lahiri, these stories have neither typical story lines nor endings. After reading these stories, take a deep breath and move on.

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