India Ink

Jhumpa Lahiri's stories reveal their intentions with a stately slowness that is starting to seem distinctly 20th century. Her writing is completely free of humor or cleverness. It's almost totally devoid of narrative suspense. In the title story of her new collection, UNACCUSTOMED EARTH (Knopf; 333 pages), a widowed man comes to visit his daughter; their family is Indian, but she married an American. Will the father move in with them? Will he tell his daughter that he has a new lover? Lahiri (who won a Pulitzer for Interpreter of Maladies) gives us nearly 60 pages of precisely narrated time and...

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