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Lahiri's new book is NYT's bestseller

Jhumpa Lahiri's new book Unaccustomed Earth, tops NYT's list of best-selling fiction books within two weeks of its launch.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, New York
UPDATED ON APR 14, 2008 06:04 PM IST

Indian American Jhumpa Lahiri's new book Unaccustomed Earth, which has been receiving rave reviews in the US press, has zoomed to the top in the list of best-selling fiction within two weeks of its April 1 launch.

The book, New York-based Lahiri's second collection of short stories, debuts at No. 1 slot in the list to appear in the Times on April 20, a paper's blog said Thursday.

"It's hard to remember the last genuinely serious, well-written work of fiction - particularly a book of stories - that leapt straight to No. 1; it's a powerful demonstration of Lahiri's newfound commercial clout," the blog Paper Cut said.

Lahiri's first collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000. But she is better known for her novel, The Namesake, which was turned into a movie last year by Mira Nair, starring Tabu and Irfan Khan.

Major US papers have promptly reviewed Unaccustomed Earth, a collection of eight stories. The New York Times Book Review featured the book on the cover Sunday.

USA Today wrote about the book: "Immigrants may be the stories' protagonists, but their doubts, insecurities, losses and heartbreaks belong to all of us. Never before has Lahiri mined so perfectly the secrets of the human heart."

The gushing review continued, "In part, Lahiri's gift to the reader is gorgeous prose that bestows greatness on life's mundane events and activities. But it is her exploration of lost love and lost loved ones that gives her stories an emotional exactitude few writers could ever hope to match."

Publishers Weekly said, "Lahiri's stories of exile, identity, disappointment and maturation evince a spare and subtle mastery that has few contemporary equals."

Interestingly, Lahiri, of Bengali descent, who is on a month long US tour to promote her book, has hardly looked at the reviews for her new book.

"I feel like I should be more hardened at this point, but in a way I feel more vulnerable. With this book I decided not to look at anything at all. Perhaps in the future I'll ask my editor or someone to show me a few reviews that she thinks could really benefit me somehow," she told The Atlantic Monthly.

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