Top critical review
8 people found this helpful
on 25 June 2008
This collection of short stories is a fairly insipid group of overly-similar tales, which neither present an interesting snapshot, nor constitute mini-stories in themselves. As such, it is a disappointment.
First, the good news. Lahiri has a gentle, fairly soft literary style which doesn't grate, and sits fairly easily on the page. It is not going to offend. Neither will it excite, outrage, drive you to drink or euphoria, agitate, or thrill. It simply sits there, like wallpaper.
The subject matter of the stories becomes repetitive very quickly. Indian person arrives in New York/New England. Finds it odd. Feels dislocated. The end. Okay - one or two stories might conceivably cover that concept with something fresh or insightful. Five or six just gets tedious. I can't vouch for the authenticity of the tales set in India, but to this reader it read like a collection of clichés, and could have been compiled by anyone, using Wikipedia and some pictures on Google. Where are the Indian middle classes? Where is the sense of a subcontinent exploding outwards, taking on the world? No, we have the poor women living on the roof.
Ultimately, Lahiri appears to be writing the same basic story over and over. As a result, the stories have no resonance or impact. When you finish one you merely think "oh yeah, that was just like the last one." For the past few years, it has been the fashion to laud just about any book about India, China or Islam that was written by a photogenic woman. This is clearly just another in that sad trend. Lahiri will have to write a fine novel to raise her level up from this mediocrity.