Sunday, August 23, 2009
Digging To America
In Ann Tyler's 17th novel two families, each welcoming an adopted baby girl from Korea, are thrown together in an airport. The Donaldson delegation consists of Brad and Bitsy and their numerous relatives. They are a huge, over the top American clan who greet their new family member with exuberant razzmatazz. The Yazdan family is more reserved. Sami and Ziba Yazdan and Sami's Iranian born mother, Maryam, stand quietly off to the side awaiting their new baby. This book is about what happens when these two very different families become entwined. Bitsy, the organizer, decides that they will reunite for an "Arrival Party" for the girls each year on the anniversary of their arrival to the U.S.. There are also leaf raking parties, New Years parties and even a binky party (don't ask). Cultural differences pop up frequently and come to a head when Maryam and Bitsy's recently widowed father, Dave, become romantically involved. Tyler explores cultural identity, political correctness, longing, loss and what it feels like to be a perpetual outsider. I always look forward to a new Tyler novel and this one does not disappoint. It's written with the gentleness and humour that have become Tyler's hallmarks.