Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Narrated by Sarita Choudhury and Ajay Naidu
Publisher: Random House Audio
Synopsis: In this book Lahiri continues to explore the themes of generational and cultural conflict that immigrants from India feel in America. Through a series of short stories she portrays various stories that both show the immigrant experience whilst still being universal.
My Thoughts: I just couldn’t bring myself to love this book as much as I loved Interpreter of Maladies which I read pre-blogging. I don’t know if it was where I am right now (in somewhat of a reading slump) or if it was hearing the stories or…I just found pretty much all the stories to be depressing. There were married couples who no longer loved each other. There were children and parents who simply couldn’t seem to talk to each other. There was infidelity and broken hearts. And none of them seemed to have a happy ending. Yes I know life shouldn’t always have a happy ending and perhaps listening to this book on the way home from work in the car might not have been the right place to digest these stories, but they just left me sad.
This said at no point did I consider not finishing the book. The stories were interesting and the different characters compelling. As depressed as they made me, their stories also moved me. I wanted to know what happened to them in the end. This was especially true for Hema and Kaushik who are the two main characters (and narrators) in the second part of the book. The telling of the story alternates between Hema and Kaushik and at times what seems to be a omniscient narrator. To see the story from different perspectives allowed the story to be somehow more complete. Although they don’t narrate parallel stories, rather they narrate different time periods, we still get glimpses of the same events. I also felt that this story portrayed the rootlessness that being an immigrant or a child of immigrants can give you. This is one of the aspects of Lahiri’s stories that I have always been able to relate to.
I really do wonder if I would have like the book better if I had a) read it not listened to it and/or b) read it at a different time in my life.
Narration: Generally I liked the narration, until I got to the end of the last story. The accent that the narrator uses for the Swedish tourist that Kaushik meets just annoyed the living daylights out of me! It was more German than Swedish but not quite German either. It was just BAD and really really took away from my enjoyment of the last story, a story that I quite enjoyed up until that point.