The Ties That Bind

The short story collection, Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri was beautiful. Honestly beautiful, but also heart-breakingly beautiful.

As you may recall, I was strongly moved by Lahiri’s novel, The Namesake. So much so that I started this blog. I raced out to get her first short story collection, The Interpreter of Maladies. It was too good to talk about it. I wouldn’t be able to do that collection of work justice. (I read it too quickly to even think about everything the way I want to.) But I can talk about Unaccustomed Earth.

This collection of stories all had a common theme. We live our lives in family units. No matter how imperfect our families are, we find security and comfort in them. But then, someone comes into our lives, leaves our lives, reveals something, betrays us, and there is a crack in that family we once knew. That’s what life is. We live our lives the way they are, never expecting things to change, but then they do. And whatever we have done to prevent change, we can’t stop it. Is life better or worse after that change? And who is to say that it won’t change again? What will life be like after that change?

My two favorite stories were “Unaccustomed Earth” and “Only Goodness.” I hesitate to say favorite. I really mean to say that these two stories belonged to me most emotionally. I understood the characters and their experiences in a way that I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to know exactly how these people were feeling, but I did. And I loved that somebody could write all those emotions for me. Especially “Only Goodness.” The story follows a pair of siblings from the older sister’s perspective. I cried for a long time, and can only admit that I love my little sister very much, and have every confidence in her.

I loved it. Lahiri is a genius, and inspires me to think and write more effectively.


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