Unaccustomed Earth Background

Unaccustomed Earth Background

Published in 2008, Unaccustomed Earth is Jhumpa Lahiri’s second collection of short stories. Characteristic of Lahiri’s work, Unaccustomed Earth explores the Indian American characters’ lives and culturally mixed society. It won the 2008 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and was number one on the New York Times Book Review list of “10 Best Books of 2008.”

In the short stories in the collection,“Unaccustomed Earth,” “Hell-heaven,” “A Choice of Accommodations,” “Only Goodness,” “Nobody’s Business,” and “Hema and Kaushik,” Lahiri tells of the gender boundaries and roles in America and family issues stemming from their Bengali heritage. She narrates Bengali characters who are divided between the culture of their past and their new one. Even the characters who are not sentimental about their Bengali culture feel the weight of their ancestors’ past. Lahiri tells of conflicts between generations but also notes the humor of the many contradictions in living two cultures simultaneously. She carefully expresses the emotions and describes their world as the characters themselves see it, revealing each narrative in rich and unforgettable detail.

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