Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Digging to America, Anne Tyler, Alfred A Knopf, 2006, ? pp

According to the author bio, this is Tyler's 17th novel. I read it for one of my reading groups and did not think it was one of her best. Yet, what do I know? According to my reading log, I've only read two others of her books: The Accidental Tourist and Back When We Were Grownups, both of which I liked a great deal.

Two families meet at the Baltimore airport as each receives an adopted orphan from Korea in 1997. The Donaldsons are American, the Yazdans are second generation Iranian/Americans. Due to Bitsy, the "American" new mother, they remain connected and get involved in each others' lives. As the babies grow the families hold an Arrival Party each year to celebrate the adopted children's entrance into their lives.

While there is plenty going on in these families, the story turns out to be about Maryam, the paternal grandmother of the Iranian family's adopted daughter. And while her issues appear to be about an Iranian woman adapting to America, they are actually about her personal issues of love, connection, privacy, independence and aging.

All told it is a good story, well-written and so readable that I finished the book in a few hours. Tyler also addresses cancer, dying, widowhood, child-raising and in-laws, both American and Iranian. September 11 plays a part in security issues about Arabs, the ways Americans view and treat people from other cultures and the ways that immigrants deal with that.

Lots of stuff but nothing new really in contemporary fiction and nothing disturbing to any degree. I was hoping for more about the adopted kids but they were only six years old by the end. Somehow I felt she tried to do too much and ended up not doing enough with this story.

No comments:

Post a Comment