Unaccustomed Earth

Short stories dealing with the lives of Bengalis who move to America and attend Ivy-League-ish colleges or move back to Bombay. Most characters involve relationships between non-Indians and Indians, the tensions of tradition and family up against the realities of American life. Several stories deal with the death of a parent, how the other parent moves on too quickly to bring another person into their lives. There are stories of overachievers dealing with alcoholic brothers, suitors calling to propose to a woman sight unseen, planting gardens, inviting a family to live with another family for months while they try to find a house nearby as they return from India. The second section of the book clusters stories about two particular people, how they knew each other as children from each of their perspectives, then their chance meeting in Rome where they become lovers and he urges her not to enter the arranged marriage that awaits in a few months. She refuses to give up her teaching life and he regrets letting her get away, but heads off to his new life in Hong Kong with a vacation stop in Thailand. Unfortunately, the tsunami hits, taking him away, and happily ever after. I sucked this down in a few entirely enjoyable hours.