• Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri *** (of 4)

    Compelling in the way of an auto crash. I could not look away, but I definitely felt worse for having partaken. Like her Interpreter of Maladies, Lahiri delivers a compendium of short stories about the first and second generation lives of college-educated New England Bengalis. Only thing is by her accounting their lives consist nearly entirely of remorse, despair, despondence, regret, cancer, alcohol , duplicity, and disloyalty. March 2009.

  • n Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin ** (of 4)

    Eight short stories of contemporary life in Pakistan.  Most of the short stories cover decades or lifetimes:  way too much material to summarize in just a couple dozen pages.  In each, men and women fall in love and inevitably hearts are broken.  All the women in the stories suffer economic, psychological, and sometimes physical pain.  Ewww.  The most overrated book of the year.  October 2009.

  • Good Scent from Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler

    Short stories on Vietnam and Vietnamese living in Texas. I read about half the stories. They were good, but they were all short stories. It wasn’t like reading a novel. Jumpa Lahiri’s short stories on the other hand were like reading novels. One after the other. This book did win a Pulitzer, however and again LEP and my sister-in-law thought the book was terrific.