Sunday, March 16, 2008

Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri

So, last week I read an advance copy of the upcoming Jhumpa Lahiri novel. This isn't any kind of formal review, but here's what I thought:

Three of the four best stories you could have found in The New Yorker, including the best one, "Hell-Heaven," which, after reading twice and hearing read once, I'm starting to think may be my favorite story of hers, right up there with "A Temporary Matter." The fourth is the title story.

The book, or at least the advance copy, is broken into two parts. The second part is three linked stories starting with one from TNY. Unfortunately, that one was by the far the strongest, and the rest of the section didn't feel finished to me. Maybe it wasn't. Maybe she was still working on revisions.

I'd put this book between The Namesake (which I think is more an extremely long short story than a novel, and a story that could have just been a regularly long short story) and Interpreter of Maladies (which I loved and which has one of the all time great titles). It's good but not a classic.

Speaking of classics, and as an addendum to this post, check this out:
Congrats to Fringe on their (our) list, though I can't get behind any best book list that has The Kite Runner on it. The above link is someone's compilation of one-star amazon reviews of best books.

Stay classy, San Diego.

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