Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth and the Reading of Nathaniel Hawthorne

Israa Hashim Taher


Born in England, to Bengali parents, and raised in America, Jhumpa Lahiri (1967) has been variously labeled as Indian-American, post-modern, post-colonial, and Indian writer. Naming Lahiri has been a long and intricate process. However, the identity she chooses for herself is something different. She wants herself to be simply recognized as an American writer. In her first novel, The Namesake (2003), the  protagonist, reflecting the dilemma of his creator, suffers the confusing experience of having an appropriate name.  Lahiri  resorts to Russian literature to establish an identity for her protagonist. In her second collection of short stories,  Unaccustomed Earth (2008), Lahiri uses the American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne not just to suggest the title, and epigraph for the collection, but more importantly to "establish her belonging in an American literary canon," as Ambreen Hai suggests in "Re-Rooting Families: The Alter/Natal as the Central Dynamic of Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth." I want to push this argument further by suggesting that Lahiri attempts to gain her formal entry into the main stream American literature by re-writing Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter (1850)in reverse order in "Hema and Kaushik", the second part of  Unaccustomed Earth.

Keywords: Lahiri, Hawthorne, India, Scarlet Letter, identity, America  

Full Text:



Arjopalo, N. (2015). Model migrants in turmoil: Second-generation migrant identities in Jhumpa Lahiri's unaccustomed earth (Unpublished master's thesis, University of Helsinki). Retrieved from http:// hdl. handle. net/ 10138/ 155075.

Bollinger, H. (2014).The danger of rereading: Disastrous endings in Paul Austere's the Brooklyn follies and Jhumpa Lahiri's unaccustomed earth. Studies in the Novel , 46( 4), 486-506. Retrieved from http://www.jstore.org.

Cardozo, K. M. (2012) Ethnicity and intertextuality in Jhumpa Lahir's oeuvre in Naming Jhumpa Lahiri: Canons and controversies. Lavina Dhingra and Floyd Cheung, eds. Lanham: Lexington Books.

Dhingra, L. (2012). Feminizing men? moving beyond Asian American literary gender wars in Jhumpa Lahiri's fiction in Naming Jhumpa Lahiri: Canons and controversies. Lavina Dhingra and Floyd Cheung, eds. Lanham: Lexington Books.

Hai, A. (2012). Re-rooting families: The alter/natal as the central dynamic of Jhumpa Lahiri's unaccustomed earth in Naming Jhumpa Lahiri: Canons and controversies. Lavina Dhingra and Floyd Cheung, eds. Lanham: Lexington Books.

Hawthorne, N . (1990). The scarlet letter. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hemlata. R. (2013). Dichotomy and dilemma: A study of father-daughter relationship in Jhumpa Lahir's unaccustomed earth. Language in India, 13 (10). Retrieved from http://www.languageindia.com.

Lahiri, J. (2008 ). unaccustomed earth. New York: Vintage Contemporaries.

Leyda, J. (2011). An interview with Jhumpa Lahiri. Contemporary women's writing 5(1), 66-83. Retrieved from www. oxfordjournals .org.

Sazzad, R. (2015). Jhumpa Lahiri's re-enactment of the Hawthornian drama of passion and expulsion in today's multicultural America in unaccustomed earth. SACS, 5(1), 53-62. Retrieved from www.southasianculturalstudies.co.uk.

Singh, A. (2007). Names can wait: The misnaming of the South Asian diaspora in theory and practice. South Asian Review, XXVIII (1), 13-27. Retrieved from www.lehigh.edu,- amsp, amardeep_sing. Tayler, Christopher. (2008, June 21). A life in books: Jhumpa Lahiri. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://the guardian.com.

Taylor, Walter Fuller. (1950). The story of American letters. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company.

Turner, A. (1961). Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.

Yun, L. (2014). Diasporic trauma in unaccustomed earth. Cross-Cultural Communication, 10(2), 141-144. Retrieved from www. cscanada.net.article.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the 'aiac.org.au' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.