General ramblings

Unaccustomed Earth

My mom told me that Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri will be released tomorrow, April 1, 2008. I can’t wait to read it! I didn’t really like The Namesake much. It almost read like a Bollywood movie script (no wonder the movie did so well and found so many takers). The movie was good though. The Interpreter of Maladies was an amazing book and the fact that this unreleased book is also a collection of short stories, makes me excited. The theme is pretty much the same- Bengali family, living abroad and dealing with the typical first generation immigrant family emotions. The treatment is supposedly new. I’ve read a number of glowing reviews on the internet. In fact, the book’s been sold out on Amazon. I’ll probably go to Borders or Barnes and Noble and get a copy tomorrow.

Now…only if Arundhati Roy would write another book. πŸ™‚ I haven’t yet gotten over The God of Small Things, even though I read it more than a decade back, during the time it was released.

By the way, what is it with Google Books? The entire book seems to be accessible? Do no Evil?

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14 thoughts on “Unaccustomed Earth

  1. Ruhi: GOST is _not_ available in full with Google Books. It lists the contents in full though. The book is still in copyright. πŸ™‚ I doubt she will write another book for three reasons. One, it perhaps was a fluke. Two, she is now a full-time activist. Three, she writes activism-type pieces, not always well-written or well-argued but read widely of course, a bit like Angelina Jolie and her UN missions where it is hard to tell who/ what is more important.

    Despite myself, I think I read Interpreter of Maladies – was it the one about one guy’s experiences in the US and Europe? (See how caring I am!).

    Do write a review when you have read the book.

    On the ‘Indian diaspora’ writing which is not about one particular region’s people’s overseas angst, I would recommened Amitav Kumar’s ‘Husband of a Fanatic’. Not fiction, as you can guess. But deeply personal and highly visceral. I had to put it down several times just to recover from things I read. He teaches English at Vassar and hails from Bihar. I have had some correspondence with him about it too. Reading weird stuff is great; authors respond to emails and letters. Hah!

  2. @ Shefaly:

    Really? Why is it that the entire book is opening up when I click on that link? (shakes head). There is a watermark in the lower right hand corner that says “Coyrighted Material”, but that’s about it. Even The Namesake and The Interpreter of Maladies are available in entirety.

    I know that Roy won’t write another book. I was reading one of her essays on Narmada Bachao Andolan today (long story…why was I thinking about this today? Because I read a piece on Aamir being the torch bearer for Olympics–his involvement in the Narmada bachao andolan and hence, Roy). Even I’m not a very big fan of her real life logic and stances, but her way of writing and her style have always captivated me. I have one of her videos (Instant Mix Imperial Democracy) on my Vodpod collection- not sure if you’ve heard it (you might have), but it’s worth your time. As an alternate, you can read the transcript online too.

    The Interpreter of Maladies was a collection of short stories and focused on different characters πŸ™‚ I don’t remember the exact stories…it was such a long time back.

    I’ll try to write a review after I buy the book and read it.

    Re: Amitav Kumar- Haven’t heard of this book ever πŸ™‚ The title reeks of weirdness too. I think I’ll like it. Will let you know…I hope I can manage to get a copy somewhere. Vassar and Bihar combination is very interesting though. Can’t stop smirking. πŸ˜›

  3. Ruhi: It is entirely possible that when accessed from a US IP address the whole book opens up (I shall have a chance to test this shortly ;-)). I see a cover picture on the left, a summary and then on the right links to places where I can buy the book. Below it, I see a list of contents by chapters. Below that is a set of reviews, and at the bottom of the page, I see a map with marks for places mentioned in the book.

    Amitav Kumar’s book is great. He is married to a Canadian poetess, of Pakistani origin. Hence the title. He writes about many things in this personal reflection, including how he visited the border in Kashmir from both sides, how he saw the ‘propaganda’ in both countries and of course, the visa hassles.

  4. Congratulations, you earned an off-topic comment! Well, with me around, you don’t exactly have to earn it but anyway, the line was sounding good. Don’t blame me, I haven’t read any of those books. I haven’t read any book from a long time.

    Nice new look btw. The header and the scratched black background are really sexy.

  5. The book : I cant open it either. may be coz u are on US proxy like Shefaly said.
    The new theme : Too cool !!!! amazing. I love this theme.
    For a moment i thought there was too much dust on my screen. I admit….I tried wiping it off too haha.
    πŸ™‚

  6. I am looking forward to the release too. I like her as a writer, not absolutely love, but like. I liked The Namesake (book) too but didn’t like the movie that much. Actually I guess because I had already read the book I was expecting something from the movie which was a disappointment.

  7. The Interpreter of maladies was much better than the Namesake. When I read Namesake, I instantly knew that it would me made into a movie. The short stories of “The interpreter of maladies” were very absorbing somehow. I guess they were very simple yet had a very strong undercurrent of human emotions.
    Now read this one ASAP and let me know. I have gift vouchers worth 2500 Rs from Crosswords and I can’t wait to spend them. πŸ™‚

  8. Shefaly- Oh yeah! That didn’t occur to me. But still…why would they want to do that? It’s quite crazy.

    Ish- You really need to read some “good” books, now that your exams are “technically” over. πŸ™‚ And thanks for the compliment on the new look. Just a stylesheet for the K2 lite theme. I haven’t used a dark theme since ages and since the writing is in white, I don’t mind!

    Xylene- Possibly my US IP Address is the reason, yes. But still…it shouldn’t have been accessible. And eerr…hope your screen didn’t get ruined πŸ˜‰

    Suda- Using a proxy server is a clever clever idea! πŸ™‚ Probably others who want to test my theory can use this method. Thanks for telling us. I’m not on proxy. I’m in the US and have a US IP address.

    Nita- Yes, she’s not really the best of writers. Even I didn’t enjoy the movie that much, having read the book a long time back. Plus, I can’t appreciate movies that propagate fallacies- Calcuttans staying in old buildings without a fan etc. That was a little too much of masala, probably to attract the Western audience.

    Amit- The Interpreter of Maladies is a very good book, I agree. πŸ™‚ The Namesake was always the masala kind, even though I happen to know a number of people who think that the book was a brilliant piece of literature (and yes, they read a lot of good books). Anyway, perceptions vary.

    I will definitely let you know whether I liked the book or not. And Rs. 2500 worth of vouchers is a lot of money πŸ˜€ Care to share some? πŸ˜‰

  9. @Ruhi : I will consult my astrologer and let you know. πŸ˜† Seriously, I am just dying to spend them. I won them in an essay writing competition in my company. I still don’t understand how I got this second prize. πŸ™‚ I am just waiting to go to Delhi so that I can make the purchase there, otherwise I have to carry the truckload of books if I buy them here in Chennai.
    @Ish : Do read a few good books. It would certainly change the way you look at life. Ab to time bhi hai(thoda sa). πŸ™‚ Need recommendations??

  10. @ Ruhi:

    May be you should pose this question to Thomas ‘Flat Earth’ Friendman. πŸ™‚

    In reality, this practice is not very different from the ‘zones’ in DVDs or that we in the UK cannot buy music from Amazon.com (unless we have a US registered credit card). Books from Penguin India contain a warning that they are not for sale outside SE Asia etc. Rights for publications and music are often limited by regions. This is what we used to call ‘the legacy problem’ in the IT industry lingo. However the internet makes these asymmetries at least plainly visible, which means customer discontent. So consider the changes a sort of slow sausage-making machine where we are witnessing how entrails are ground before being sheathed in the pig’s intestine.

    But it is changing. The price differentials for at least luxury goods are increasingly vanishing. Bose of course never had a price differential say amongst UK, US and India but that is due to _their_ legacy. But now Jimmy Choo (yes, there is a showroom in S Bombay) and Bottega Veneta and you-name-it is selling in India at UK prices (not US prices, mind you which are still the same number as in the UK but with a $ tag). Whatever the market will bear – both in economics and in tolerance terms πŸ˜‰

    Sorry, long answer to small query, yet again.

  11. @Amit and Ruhi: I know, I need to read some books. But then again, the exams are just “technically” over. There are quite a few of them coming up this month and next. So again, no time. I guess I’ll be free now only when I get into a college.

  12. Shefaly, you have an interesting take on the entire issue. Going by what Cyber Laws taught me, the boundaries of jurisdiction become a little hazy in the cyber world. But there are a number of ways and means in the International Statute that can be followed to clarify doubts. I really didn’t expect Google to make it available to US IP addresses, because after all, Google is also an American firm! We know what happened to Youtube. Why would the company want to take such a big risk with Google Books, considering the fact that there is a widespread interest/curiosity in the same field already? πŸ™‚ It has more to do with the legality than to do with the consumer choices, preferences and the market in general.

    Quite amused that Jimmy Choos are available in Bombay. Pound’s quite costly and has the Royal tag! Why not feed it to the Indians? Probably they’ll feel one step ‘closer’ to the Western world.

    Ish- Sure, this is a very important period for you. πŸ™‚ Do the best you can.

  13. @ Ruhi:

    “Why would the company want to take such a big risk with Google Books, considering the fact that there is a widespread interest/curiosity in the same field already?”

    It _is_ entirely possible that Google’s licensing arrangements with the publisher are limiting like that. As I mentioned earlier, people in the UK cannot buy music from Amazon.com (unless they have a credit card registered to an address in the UK).

    Not just Jimmy Choo but Bottega has a shop right next to it. On my last trip to India, I saw a guy count out Rs 4 Lakh in cash to buy an Omega watch. I did some maths and found that he was paying over the odds – by a factor of at least 2.5 – for one of their ordinary watches.

    Pricing transparency is harder to fight, but product availability still can be controlled by region.

    I am serious – ask Friedman and see what he says! πŸ™‚

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