Thursday, August 27, 2009

Unaccustomed Earth

A bright burning sun almost roasted my face as I was walking across the street for a meeting this morning. A tall white guy with long unruly curls was coming from the opposite direction. He was engrossed in reading a book as he walked. When our paths crossed, I noticed two big words on the book 'Jhumpa Lahiri'. Shocking.

I walked to a nearby commercial area at lunch to get a slice of the best garlic bun I've ever had and instead landed up in Borders next to it. Just as I entered, the first shelf had 'Unaccustomed Earth' by Lahiri bang in the middle. I've wanted to read her book ever since I saw 'The Namesake' and thought of this coincidence as a sign to buy it. It was a Borders Express, not even a full blown one so I was surprised that it was right by the entrance.

Later in the evening when I got a chance to put my feet up, I opened the first 2 pages which were splashed with glorying reviews by tons of newspapers and magazines. She is after all the Pulitzer Prize winning author so all her books turn out to be high profile. Getting excited by the reviews, I proceeded to read about 15 pages of my new possession. It wasn't the most exciting start I must confess. Dull every day situations, dull every day characters, dull every day story. What's there to like I asked myself?

This was the same reason I hadn't been able to finish her previous book, The Namesake. I would open it every so often, read a little here and then and back out because I felt it was lackluster at the time. Then I saw the movie and for the first time felt how emotionally captivating her powerful tale was. It had left me speechless for quite some time.

The language of her books doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, her characters are often just ordinary immigrants with the typical experiences that you might have heard a dozen times and there is a slightly depressing undertone to the story. But everyone from Oprah to The New York Times raves about her. I hope to see what they see when I go through the book. And I certainly intend to finish this one before forming my opinions. Forming them yet again I mean.

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