Reviews - What do customers think about Propios Y Extranos/ Digging to America?
Tyler continues to delight Jun 27, 2007
From Anne Tyler comes her latest novel Digging to America.
I first encountered (?) Tyler when I lived in Washington DC, in the late 70s and early 80s. Browsing in the bookshop, I came across a hardback of Morgan's Passing. I leafed through it and bought it. From beginning to end, I was transported into Morgan's world created by Tyler, the Baltimore based writer.
I used to go to Baltimore at least twice a month - for seafood. After reading the book, every time I went, I thought of Tyler. I wondered what part of town she lived in. What did her house look like? What did she look like?
Morgan's Passing is an exquisite piece of work. Every detail of Morgan - his house, his appearance, his friends, his community - appeared in my mind, crystal clear. After this, I became a diehard Tyler fan, reading every book she wrote.
Digging to America is about the ultimate immigrant experience. Based in Baltimore (where most of her books are based) it's about the story of two families (and their families) connected by the adoption of Korean girls. In some ways the families couldn't be different. One is first generation Iranian and the other full blooded American. They first meet at the airport, where they're collected to receive their babies. Slowly they begin to get to know each other, and became friends. They have their individual and collective tensions, cultural differences, petty jealousies and comparisons. But, despite this they are there for each other - cooking, babysitting, car pooling, hand holding, and giving support. The story is woven around family and parties. The two families begin to organize `Arrival parties' (to mark the day the girls arrived from Korea). And, like most families, a great deal is revealed in family gatherings. It is amusing, tiring, poignant and familiar - all together and separately.
Tyler was married to an Iranian psychiatrist man (who died some years ago), so her immigrant experience in some ways is first hand. Simple things such as finding the word in the mother tongue, and panicking that it is forgetting. Longing for a 'home', a culture, environment, that is no longer there. Not knowing where one belongs. It's the stuff that the immigrant experience is made of.
And of course there is love. What brings people together? Is it a common language, values, habits, experiences, or what? And, intergenerational relationships. How much to intrude? When to pull away? What do you do with loneliness when you are protecting your territory? What do you do with fear - of intimacy and relationships?
While I enjoyed Digging to America, I enjoyed Tyler's earlier books more. Maybe it's in the head. However, I still recommend her latest work to all those interested in multicultural relationships and good, interactive writing.