Friday, 16 December 2011

Digging to America

I've been buying books as Christmas presents using my usual 'one for you, two for me' method. Sticking to paperbacks though, hardbacks are just too expensive. All the Charlotte Bronte news yesterday made me want to re-read Jane Eyre when I've worked through my Anne Tyler phase. Very much enjoyed Digging to America. Look, I've even written a review!

Baltimore airport. Two Korean babies arrive in America to be met by their adoptive parents. A large welcoming party are gathered to greet Jin-Ho. Brad and Bitsy, her all-American adoptive parents and their friends and relatives hold balloons and pink ribbons and video record the arrival. Sooki has a much more low-key welcome from Sami and Ziba, the young couple who are adopting her and their mother, an Iranian immigrant, Maryam, who resents the way that Americans expect her to think and behave.

The two families decide to keep in touch so that the girls will grow up as friends. Each year on the anniversary of their arrival in America an Arrival Party is held to celebrate the event and the video is replayed. Brad and Bitsy raise Jin-Ho to retain her Korean identity - to the extent of occasionally dressing her in full Korean costume complete with headdress - and naturally Jin-Ho eventually rebels, wanting to be called Jo and coming to hate the Arrival parties.

I've always admired the way that Amy Tan writes about Asian-American culture clashes and Tyler writes with the same sensitivity and humour. I particularly enjoyed the chapter in which Hurricane Isabel hits the neighbourhood.

Jin-Ho began to feel prickly-skinned and excited, the way she did on Christmas Eve. During supper she kept twisting around in her chair to look out the kitchen window. The air was a weird shade of lavender and the trees were flipping their leaves wrong side to. "Keep your fingers crossed for our elms," her father told her. "As much money as I've spent on those things, I might as well be putting them through college." Digging to America, Anne Tyler

13 comments:

Joan Hunter Dunn said...

Oh I love Ann Tyleer, so does my husband, so we've had quite a few double up of her books when our bookshelves merged. I'd really like to read another of hers soon - perhaps a gift that I can then also gain pleasure from!

Sunday Taylor said...

This Anne Tyler book sounds excellent. Thanks for the recommendation. Also went on your link regarding the Charlotte Bronte news. Wow, that is really amazing. Thanks for letting us know. I always enjoy your book reviews and this will be another book to add to my ever growing list of books to read!

amaliabalash said...

This is one of only two Tylers that I've read, but I vastly preferred it to the better-known The Accidental Tourist- I remember Maryam being a particularly intriguing character.

Cathy at PotterJotter said...

Have not read any of her books but this sounds like a really good one to try and I think I may be getting a .... kindle .... from Santa which I heartily disapprove of! Feel like I have gone over to the dark side!

frisbeebookjournal said...

I love the two for one method. I'm afraid I've gone a little overboard this year. :)

I love all of Anne Tyler. I'm wondering if she isn't due for another book soon.

JoAnn said...

I've read quite a few of Anne Tyler's books and loved Digging to America... it may just be my favorite so far.

Anbolyn (Gudrun's Tights) said...

I like the sound of this, the subject seems so timely, but I'm still afraid to try another Anne Tyler after I disliked Ladder of Years.

litlove said...

I'm a huge Anne Tyler fan and I loved this one. How great to think you are working your way through her novels. I'd love to have them over to read for the first time once again!

A Bookish Space said...

I enjoyed Digging to Americs, and should read it again soon. Amy Tan is pretty brilliant isn't she.

Becca said...

That's one of my favorite Anne Tyler books, and now you've prompted me to dig it out and re-read it. I also like The Amateur Marriage. Actually, I love just about all of her books!

Kathy said...

I have read several Ann Tylers, but I started to feel that they were all the same. This one sounds different and I'll give her another try. Great quote! Ruby
http://yearofreadingmybooks.wordpress.com/

Penny said...

Another goodie! Your reviews bring these books vividly back into my mind! You said you were enjoying 'Noah's Compass', but you don't seem to have reviewed it. I loved that one, too. As well as my TBR bookcase, I should probably have a 'Re-read' one, if you're going to keep on like this! :o)

Vintage Reading said...

Joan, How nice to share a passion for a writer with your husband. I'm ashamed to say that I've only just realised that your online name comes from a poem. *Blush*

Sunday, I have to say I've slipped with my Bronte reading. Never did finish The Professor!

amaliabalash, may I recommend A Patchwork Planet. One of Tyler's finest!

Cathy, I've pondered getting a Kindle, too. My sister swears they are wonderful!

frisbee, it's difficult to find out info about AT. I believe she is quite reclusive - not a bad thing - but it would be good to know if another book is due.

JoAnn, have you read A Patchwork Planet? I'm about halfway through and it's brilliant!

Anbolyn, I've just re-might read LOY and it's not a favourite. You might like A Patchwork Planet.

litlove, I think there are about 17titles so I have some way to go. Thoroughly enjoying them.

A Bookish Space. I believe there will be a new Amy Tan title The Valley of Amazement next year. It's been a long wait for us Tan fans!

Becca, not read The Amateur Marriage yet, must add to list!

Kathy, they generally share the same location, Baltimore, and are focussed on ordinary people but I don't feel they are samey ... maybe when I've read fifteen or so I will!

Penny, I think I'll have to do a collective review and include Noah's Compass - my writing isn't keeping up with my reading!