Digging to America
Anne Tyler has been a very prolific fiction author. By my count, this is her 17th book. All of them are good reads in different ways. Digging to America is now one of my favorites. Though Tyler's characters are sometimes too eccentric, in this book they are very real and believable.
In a recent interview Tyler talked about how she was married for many years to an Iranian doctor, but is now a widow. She also said that she witnessed the arrival of a child for an overseas adoption when she was in an airport and that was the spark for the novel. It's apparent that both elements play into Digging to America.
This is the story of two families, who meet as they are picking up their adopted Korean daughters. There is the large Donaldson clan (very American) and then there are the Yazdans, an Iranian American family. The Donaldsons have their entire family at the airport to greet Jin-Ho and although the Yazdans are there alone to greet their daughter, whose name is changed to Susan, we soon meet their extended family and it is even larger than the Donaldsons. The Donaldsons and Yazdans become friends, despite their differences, because they have the girls in common.
Most of the story is told from the point of view of Susan's grandmother, Maryam Yazdan, the widow of the Iranian doctor. Maryam becomes involved in the lives of both families. She also has a romantic relationship with one of the Donaldson relatives, that doesn't work our the way we would expect.
Digging to America is humorous and poignant and has a lot to say about fitting in in a strange culture. I highly recommend this book.