So a long time ago, my stepmom gave me a book she thought I’d enjoy. This one, which I’m just now realizing isn’t even on my shelf. Um, what the heck? No nevermind it’s cool. I just realized where it is. Which is funny, since I always joke with David about how I know where all of my books are. He used to threaten to rearrange them when I wasn’t looking, and I told him I’d know if he did. He didn’t quite believe me (my collection is somewhere around 400) but he never actually tried it. Apparently, though, I can lend out one of my favorite books for a few years without remembering. Oops!
Anyway, I really loved that book of short stories. I think they’re absolutely great, especially as a primer for how to read deeper into stories, if you’re trying to grow your reading comprehension (which is exactly why I lent the book out). When she published The Namesake I read it as well, although I wasn’t as big of a fan as I was her short stories. Her next novel, Unaccustomed Earth, was way better in my mind, and really primed me to be excited about The Lowland, which didn’t disappoint AT ALL.
A lot of the time I like to reference Franzen as my core Great American Novel example, because I really think he has an amazing grasp of taking a broad snapshot of America in a certain decade and boiling it down to its core components, and then infusing that into a family he writes about. Which means he ends up being my comparison when I see another author writing in a similar fashion. Which means that Lahiri pulled off the immigrant version of Franzen’s themes SPECTACULARLY. As in, no comparison to Franzen at all, sine she’s an amazingly strong writer in her own right. She wrote an amazing novel about an Indian family and used it to capture the feelings and politics surrounding them through revolution, political activisim, borderline terrorism, immigrating to America, forced marriages, and awful, painful family secrets.