Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Book Review: Digging to America

Digging to America, by Anne Tyler, explores family, adoption, culture, and what it means to be “American”. Two very different families, one American and the other Iranian, gather at an airport to welcome their adopted babies from Korea. The arrival of the infants is the beginning of a life-long relationship for these two families, one that takes them through politeness, curiosity, comfort, bonding, and explorations of differentness and belonging.

Very often, Americans and newcomers attempt to interact at social gatherings, sharing information about each other via food tasting, invitations to partake in customs, and general exchanges of cultural details. However well-intentioned these efforts may be, both groups sometimes assume that the work of getting to know one another ends there.

Tyler, I think, intends for the reader to see that there is much more below the surface; it is too easy to get caught up in the way people look, the way they speak, the way they behave. Some characters in Tyler’s book fall into the trap of ethnocentrism, while others are politically correct to the point of being offensive. This book examines the opportunities that are lost when we make assumptions and when we believe that our way is the only way.

I enjoyed this book. It reminded me of times as a child, when I watched my mother fuss over perfect party preparations. She was eager to please and impress, as the guest list was a "mixed" crowd, including my father's American colleagues, and our Bolivian family and friends. Quite naturally, both groups gravitated to separate areas of the room. Fortunately, food, drinks, and music eventually got everyone to mingle.

Are you interested in this book? I'd be glad to send it to you. Comment on this post by Wednesday, August 20, and mention that you're interested in the book. I will select a winner and mail it to you.

1 comment:

The Fearless Blog said...

Great post Cassy. It sounds like a very interesting book. What is just as interesting is your analysis. I know too well what you mean.

Food and music do have a genuine way of bringing people together, even people who "appear" so different.

I am fortunate to live in such a diverse region of the US. This diversity in my students, colleagues, and friends has enriched my life so much. I am always learning and always asking. As I always say...it's the differences, the ever changing moments that make our lives exciting!

I would love to read this book! Was it published recently ? I will look for it in the library. Thanks for sharing it with us. :)