Title: "Unaccustomed Earth"
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
In a nutshell: Jhumpa Lahiri's latest short story collection is elegantly written and melancholy in tone. Her characters are the children of immigrants. Quietly, they observe their parents and each other.
The stories should be read in order. The first, "Unaccustomed Earth," is bittersweet yet hopeful. In it, a young mother learns to raise her children without parents to help her.
The last three stories are a trilogy. The final piece, "Going Ashore," perfectly sums up the sadder side of the successful life of an immigrant's child. The main character, Hema, is a respected college professor, but her yearnings are beyond anything her parents or fiance can understand.
A few months before she is to wed, Hema leaves America for a short sabbatical in Rome. Rome suits her because, as Lahiri writes, "Like Calcutta, which she'd visited throughout childhood, Rome was a city she knew both intimately and not at all a place that fully absorbed her and also kept her at bay."