Digging to America: A Novel
Digging to America: A Novel
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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.
over at Dorothy, expecting her to share the joke, but she was pursuing her own line of thought. “Wild Strawberries,” she said, in a reflective tone of voice. “Pardon?” “That’s who Irene reminds me of. The woman in the old Bergman movie—the daughter-in-law, with the skinned-back bun. Remember her?” “Ingrid Thulin,” I said. Dorothy raised her eyebrows slightly, to show she was impressed, but it wasn’t so very difficult to dredge that name up. I had been enamored with Ingrid Thulin since
her family’s courtyard back home. 3 It was Bitsy who thought up the idea of an Arrival Party. That was what she called it, right off, so that Brad had to ask, “A what, hon? Come again?” “A party to commemorate the date the girls arrived,” she told him. “In two weeks it will be a year; can you believe it? Saturday, August fifteenth. We ought to mark the occasion.” “Would you be up to it, with your mother?” Bitsy’s mother had suffered a setback—a whole new tumor, this time involving her
to arrive unannounced,” Maryam said. “May I come in?” And then she walked on in without waiting for an answer. The helmet was black and orange—the orange a flame shape over each ear—and the chin strap emphasized a pad of flesh beneath her jaw that Ziba had never noticed before. “I was out shopping, as you see,” she said, gesturing toward her skirt as if to prove it, “and when I came home I thought I’d try on this helmet I had bought. I wanted to make sure that I knew how to work it.” “You bought
Wednesdays, and Fridays Ziba picked her up. But the kindergarten program ended at noon, which meant that on Tuesdays and Thursdays Maryam had to be the one who fetched her. Maryam brought Susan back home with her, gave her lunch, and kept her until Ziba arrived several hours later. Ziba told Maryam that she worried this was an imposition now that Maryam was leading such a busy social life; but Maryam said, “What do you mean, busy?” Ziba didn’t answer that. Often when Ziba got to Maryam’s she
of his curly gray sideburns and gave it a tug, dead serious, knitting her brow when he chuckled. “See how Jin-Ho looks so tan-skinned next to Susan,” Ziba pointed out. “We think Susan’s father maybe was white.” “Yes, you’re just a little white tooth of a thing,” Dave told Susan, but Bitsy jumped in with, “Oh! Well! But actually that’s not something we would notice, really!” There was a silence. Ziba rounded her eyes at Maryam—Why not?—and Maryam gave the tiniest shrug. Then Brad said, “So