Saturday, October 13, 2007

Digging to America

I normally avoid reading fiction (because when it is good, I have a hard time stopping to do anything else - like feed my family), but my daughter recently handed me Digging to America, by Anne Tyler, to look at in the bookstore. As usual, I read a page at random to see if I like the author's voice, and after I turned pages twice to see what would happen next, I figured I'd better buy the book.

It turned out to be even better starting from the beginning. Tyler's voice is quiet, calm, as she tells of everyday events that change people's lives. She gave each of the main characters a chance to speak up; the chapters alternate between the two families involved, and it is interesting to see the different perspectives that they have. One of the families is standard American issue, the other is Iranian-American; they meet at the airport when they are both picking up adopted daughters from Korea. In spite of all the culture clashes between the families and the life events that occur over the years the novel covers, it comes down to the ever-so-human feeling that everyone else is part of the group and you are the only one feeling like an outsider. As a good novel should, the book uses particulars to illuminate a broader truth.

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