Anne Tyler manages to create such believable characters time and time again and in Digging to America she delivers yet again. The two families in the novel are linked forever by the Korean children they have each adopted. They celebrate “Arrival Day” each year with a party together. Through the various parties and with the passage of time Tyler explores the characters’ differences, their varying hopes and dreams, cultural backgrounds, sense of fitting in. A brilliant scenario for putting these different families together and beautifully written.
Friday August 15th, 1997. The night the girls arrived. Two tiny Korean babies are delivered to Baltimore to two families who have no more in common than this. First there are the Donaldsons, decent Brad and homespun, tenacious Bitsy (with her 'more organic than thou' airs, who believes fervently that life can always be improved), two full sets of grandparents and a host of big-boned, confident relatives, taking delivery with characteristic American razzmatazz. Then there are the Yazdans, pretty, nervous Ziba (her family 'only one generation removed from the bazaar') and carefully assimilated Sami, with his elegant, elusive Iranian-born widowed mother Maryam, the grandmother-to-be, receiving their little bundle with wondering discretion.
Every year, on the anniversary of 'Arrival Day' their two extended families celebrate together, with more and more elaborately competitive parties, as tiny, delicate Susan, wholesome, stocky Jin-ho and, later, her new little sister Xiu-Mei, take roots, become American. While Maryam, the optimistic pessimist, confident that if things go wrong - as well they may - she will manage as she has before, contrarily preserves her 'outsider' status, as if to prove that, despite her passport, she is only a guest in this bewildering country.
Full of achingly hilarious moments and toe-curling misunderstandings, Digging to America is a novel with a deceptively small domestic canvas, and subtly large themes - it's about belonging and otherness, about insiders and outsiders, pride and prejudice, young love and unexpected old love, families and the impossibility of ever getting it right, about striving for connection and goodness against all the odds. And the end catches you by the throat, ambushes your emotions when you least expect it, as only Tyler can.
'Out of this everyday material she spins gold: stories so achingly truthful, so achingly funny, so sad and so real that you can only marvel…her trademark blend of observant comedy and tragedy, and her window into the human heart, are gloriously apparent' Elizabeth Buchan, Daily Mail
'Digging to America is another superb novel, warm-hearted and funny' Caroline Moore, Spectator
'A small exquisitely painted canvas. Don’t miss it' Woman & Home
'Warm and optimistic, this story about adoption raises issues of belonging and identity' Bel Mooney, The Times
Publication date: 03/05/2007
|Publication date:||3rd May 2007|
|Categories:||Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),|
Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis in 1941 but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. This is Anne Tyler’s sixteenth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore. In 2012 Anne Tyler was the winner of the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence.More About Anne Tyler