Anne Tyler's richest, most deeply searching novel-a story about what it is to be an American, and about Iranian-born Maryam Yazdan, who, after 35 years in this country, must finally come to terms with her "outsiderness." Two families, who would otherwise never have come together, meet by chance at the Baltimore airport - the Donaldsons, a very American couple, and the Yazdans, Maryam's fully assimilated son and his attractive Iranian wife. Each couple is awaiting the arrival of an adopted infant daughter from Korea. After the instant babies from distant Asia are delivered, Bitsy Donaldson impulsively invites the Yazdans to celebrate: an "arrival party" that from then on is repeated every year as the two families become more and more deeply intertwined. Even Maryam is drawn in - up to a point. When she finds herself being courted by Bitsy Donaldson's recently widowed father, all the values she cherishes - her traditions, her privacy, her otherness-are suddenly threatened. A luminous novel brimming with subtle, funny, and tender observations that immerse us in the challenges of both sides of the American story.
Tyler (Breathing Lessons) encompasses the collision of cultures without losing her sharp focus on the daily dramas of modern family life in her 17th novel. When Bitsy and Brad Donaldson and Sami and Ziba Yazdan both adopt Korean infant girls, their chance encounter at the Baltimore airport the day their daughters arrive marks the start of a long, intense if sometimes awkward friendship. Sami's mother, Maryam Yazdan, who carefully preserves her exotic "outsiderness" despite having emigrated from Iran almost 40 years earlier, is frequently perplexed by her son and daughter-in-law's ongoing relationship with the loud, opinionated, unapologetically American Donaldsons. When Bitsy's recently widowed father, Dave, endearingly falls in love with Maryam, she must come to terms with what it means to be part of a culture and a country. Stretching from the babies' arrival in 1997 until 2004, the novel is punctuated by each year's Arrival Party, a tradition manufactured and comically upheld by Bitsy; the annual festivities gradually reveal the families' evolving connections. Though the novel's perspective shifts among characters, Maryam is at the narrative and emotional heart of the touching, humorous story, as she reluctantly realizes that there may be a place in her heart for new friends, new loves and her new country after all. (May 9) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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May 02, 2006
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Excerpt from Digging to America by Anne Tyler
NHL Wizard Jason Pickering Goddard left the battered podium to a round of applause and sat beside his grandmother on the gym stage of St. Anthony's Home for Boys. "Dreams die," Jason whispered. "Life sucks. That's what they should learn. I didn't do them any favors with that 'dreams do come true' crap."
His grandmother bristled without ruffling a manicured feather. "Reality, they've got," she said. "Hope is what they need."
Jason winced. She might as well have said, "They're a hell of a lot worse off than you are, so stop feeling sorry for yourself," and she was right. But he sure as hell wished the boys heading for the gym exits would stop looking back at him with all that misplaced hero worship.
Damn it. He'd screwed up. It didn't make sense, him talking about dreams, not after he'd drunk himself senseless and lost his.
Wait a minute. . . .
Jason raised his chin and gave the woman who raised him a sidelong glance. What he saw should not have surprised him: a manipulating matriarch running a power play. Well, well, well. He relaxed in his chair, stretched his legs to ease the ache in his knee, and folded his arms across his chest. "Gram, why did you really drag me here today "