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Digging to America

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Digging to America by Anne Tyler, in paperback, priced at 11 euros.

Another gem from the incomparable Anne Tyler, sparkling with diamond-sharp wit and observation, glowing with the warmth of her characters’ multifaceted, flawed, resilient humanity.

Friday August 15, 1997 and two tiny Korean babies are delivered to Baltimore to two families who have no more in common than their desire for a child.  First there are the Donaldsons; decent Brad and homespun, tenacious Bitsy (with her ‘more organic than thou’ airs and who believes fervently that life can always be improved); two full sets of grandparents and a host of big-boned, confident relatives who take 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 polite 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 and become American.

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