Wednesday, February 11, 2009

the American family

Digging to America by Anne Tyler
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Genre: fiction
Review: The title of this book comes from this question: if children in the U.S. dig a hole to China, are children in China digging to America? This seems to be a metaphor for the question of whether perhaps we're all, even the most American-seeming American, digging to America, or trying to figure out what it means to be American.

When the Donaldson (American through-and-through) and the Yazdans (Iranian-American) adopt baby girls from Korea on the same day, the families become the best of friends. It is no surprise, perhaps, that the Donaldsons opt to keep their baby's Korean name and put lots of emphasis on her Korean heritage, whereas the Yazdans Americanize their daughter's name, and generally raise her as an American.

Unpredictably, it seems that the Donaldsons look as much to the Yazdans for clues about raising their daughter as the other way around. Which is what this book is really about, I think. It's not about being American. it's about creating a family.

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