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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 (Xiu-Mei¿s "pacifier" party is worthy of The Simpsons) 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.
"Be careful if you're driving when you listen to this – you might find your eyes misting up when Korean baby Jin-Ho is delivered to her all-American adoptive parents Brad and Bitsy Donaldson. The American-Iranian Yasdans are also collecting their Korean tot, and the families become friends. What follows is the perceptive and elegantly written story of the next few years in their lives (it starts in 1997). The shifting of viewpoints stands in for any very dramatic action as the families intertwine, and the concepts of nationality, patriotism and identiy are made touchingly human. The prolific Lorelei King reads with her usuasl aplomb." (Karen Robinson, The Sunday Times)
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I kept waiting for something interesting to happen but not much did . I did keep listening but only because I was sure that some twist would happen soon. It didn't!
1 person found this helpful
Not for me
I’m giving up on this. After an hour - the first of five chapters - I feel like I’m just flipping through a magazine. I’m only being told about people’s appearances and mostly what they’re wearing. Maybe it will develop (I can see family illness on the horizon) but it holds no interest for me.
Digging to America
Another interesting Anne Tyler novel with detailed examination of the characters and refreshing insights into human behaviour.