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2000 - 2007 Orange Prize

Digging to America – Anne Tyler

The book revolves around two very different families who, unable to have children of their own, adopt Korean baby girls. The families meet at the airport when the new babies arrive in America.

It is an interesting premise for a book, as the two families are very different, both in background, and their attitudes to bringing up children. The Iranian family immediately dress their new baby in jeans, while the American family acquire traditional Korean costumes and read her Korean folk stories. The book revolves around the ‘arrival day’ parties that the families throw each year to commemorate the day they were united with their babies.

There were lots of interesting subjects raised in the book, from national identity, and customs, to adoption and methods of childcare, but unfortunately they were not investigated in any depth. The characters were too numerous for us to generate any real feelings for them, and the plot failed to develop beyond the repetition of the party each year. By the end of the book I was very bored with it, and had lost count of the number of ‘arrival day’ parties that had occurred. The characters were well observed, but they were too ordinary, and nothing exciting happens to them during the course of the book. This could have been overcome by having an emotional insight into their lives, but unfortunately this failed to happen.

Overall, I was very disappointed in this book, and won’t be rushing out to read her others.

15 replies on “Digging to America – Anne Tyler”

I try to find good things to say about each book – this one wasn’t that bad, as I actually made it to the end without too much trouble. I reserve scores of less than 2.5/5 for books I don’t finish, or were such a chore to finish that I wish I hadn’t bothered!

Don’t give up on Anne Tyler, Jackie. I’ve read a few of hers and this is probably the one I’ve enjoyed the least. I think Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant is probably the best I’ve read.

I don’t know about anyone else’s ages (And don’t intend to ask!) but as a 17 year old having to study this book for English Literature, I am quite fed up of it.
The tutor found it fairly intersting and so I was inclined to think that for older audiences, it may be more interesting – Evidently not!
I totally agree with Jackie in saying it is repetitive and ‘Softdrink’ in saying there were too many characters and a lack of detail.

2 out of 10.

I will not be inclined to pick up any of her other books in the near future.

Hi John – Thank you for taking the time to comment. I’m sorry you have to study this book for English Literature. There are so many amazing books out there I don’t know whay you have to do this one!

Anne Tyler, one of my favourites and I’ve read quite a number of her books and enjoyed them all. I really enjoyed Digging to America. I always find that she is a very perceptive writer and is very tuned in to the nature and character of her fellow Americans. Her characters are very ordinary, they are not the high flying achievers in the glossy thrillers set in big cities. Just ordinary people who have to find their way through daily life as best they can. Usually there is nothing too dramatic happening but the characters are there and having lived in the Mid-West for a couple of years I feel as though I’ve met many of her characters in the flesh.

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