Digging to America

Digging to America

by Anne Tyler


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Digging to America by Anne Tyler

New York Times Bestseller

Rich, tender, and searching, Digging to America challenges the notion that home is a fixed place, and celebrates the subtle complexities of life on all sides of the American experience.

Two families meet at the Baltimore airport while waiting for their baby girls to arrive from Korea. The Iranian-American Sami and Ziba Yazdan, with Ziba's elegant and reserved mother, Maryam, in tow, wait quietly while brash and all-American Bitsy and Brad Donaldson, plus extended family, are armed with camcorders and a fleet of balloons proclaiming "It's a girl!" After they decide together to throw an impromptu "arrival party," a tradition is born, and so begins a lifelong friendship between the two families.

As they raise their daughters, the Yazdan and Donaldson families grapple with questions of assimilation and identity. When Bitsy's recently widowed father sets his sights on Maryam, she must confront her own idea of what it means to be other, and of who she is and what she values.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345492340
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/28/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 344,243
Product dimensions: 5.14(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.57(d)
Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

ANNE TYLER is the author of more than twenty novels. Her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.


Baltimore, Maryland

Date of Birth:

October 25, 1941

Place of Birth:

Minneapolis, Minnesota


B.A., Duke University, 1961

Read an Excerpt

At eight o'clock in the evening, the Baltimore airport was nearly deserted. The wide gray corridors were empty, and the newsstands were dark, and the coffee shops were closed. Most of the gates had admitted their last flights. Their signboards were blank and their rows of vinyl chairs unoccupied and ghostly.

But you could hear a distant hum, a murmur of anticipation, at the far end of Pier D. You could see an overexcited child spinning herself into dizziness in the center of the corridor, and then a grownup popping forth to scoop her up and carry her, giggling and squirming, back into the waiting area. And a latecomer, a woman in a yellow dress, was rushing toward the gate with an armful of long-stemmed roses.

Step around the bend, then, and you'd come upon what looked like a gigantic baby shower. The entire waiting area for the flight from San Francisco was packed with people bearing pink- and blue-wrapped gifts, or hanging on to flotillas of silvery balloons printed with IT'S A GIRL! and trailing spirals of pink ribbon. A man gripped the wicker handle of a wheeled and skirted bassinet as if he planned to roll it onto the plane, and a woman stood ready with a stroller so chrome-trimmed and bristling with levers that it seemed capable of entering the Indy 500. At least half a dozen people held video cameras, and many more had regular cameras slung around their necks. A woman spoke into a tape recorder in an urgent, secretive way. The man next to her clasped an infant's velour-upholstered car seat close to his chest.

MOM, the button on the woman's shoulder read--one of those man's read DAD. A nice-looking couple, not as young as you might expect--the woman in wide black pants and an arty black-and-white top of a geometric design, her short hair streaked with gray; the man a big, beaming, jovial type with a stubbly blond buzz cut, his bald knees poking bashfully from voluminous khaki Bermudas.

And not only were there MOM and DAD; there were GRANDMA and GRANDPA, twice over--two complete sets. One grandma was a rumpled, comfortable woman in a denim sundress and bandanna-print baseball cap; the other was thin and gilded and expertly made up, wearing an ecru linen pantsuit and dyed-to-match pumps. The grandpas were dyed to match as well--the rumpled woman's husband equally rumpled, his iron-gray curls overdue for a cutting, while the gilded woman's husband wore linen trousers and some sort of gauzy tropical shirt, and part of his bright yellow hair was possibly not his own.

It's true there were other people waiting, people clearly not included in the celebration. A weary-eyed woman in curlers; an older woman with a younger one who might have been her daughter; a father with two small children already dressed in pajamas. These outsiders stood around the edges, quiet and somehow dimmed, from time to time sneaking glances in the direction of MOM and DAD.

The plane was late. People grew restless. A child pointed out accusingly that the arrivals board still read ON TIME--a plain old lie. Several teenagers wandered off to the unlit waiting area just across the corridor. A little girl in pigtails fell asleep on a vinyl chair, the button on her green plaid blouse proclaiming COUSIN.

Then something changed. There wasn't any announcement--the PA system had been silent for some time--but people gradually stopped talking and pressed toward the jetway, craning their necks, standing on tiptoe. A woman in a uniform punched in a code and swung open the jetway door. A skycap arrived with a wheelchair. The teenagers reappeared. MOM and DAD, till now in the very center of the crowd, were nudged forward with encouraging pats, a path magically widening to let them approach the door.

First off was a very tall young man in jeans, wearing the confused look of someone who'd been flying too long. He spotted the mother and daughter and went over to them and bent to kiss the daughter, but only on the cheek because she was too busy peering past him, just briefly returning his hug while she kept her eyes on the new arrivals.

Two businessmen with briefcases, striding purposefully toward the terminal. A teenage boy with a backpack so huge that he resembled an ant with an oversized breadcrumb. Another businessman. Another teenage boy, this one claimed by the woman in curlers. A smiling, rosy-cheeked redhead instantly engulfed by the two children in pajamas.

Now a pause. A sort of gathering of focus.

A crisply dressed Asian woman stepped through the door with a baby. This baby was perhaps five or six months old--able to hold herself confidently upright. She had a cushiony face and a head of amazingly thick black hair, cut straight across her forehead and straight across the tops of her ears, and she wore a footed pink sleeper. "Ah!" everyone breathed--even the outsiders, even the mother and the grown daughter. (Although the daughter's young man still appeared confused.) The mother-to-be stretched out both arms, letting her tape recorder bounce at the end of its strap. But the Asian woman stopped short in an authoritative manner that warded off any approach. She drew herself up and said, "Donaldson?"

"Donaldson. That's us," the father-to-be said. His voice was shaking. He had somehow got rid of the car seat, passed it blindly to someone or other, but he stayed slightly to the rear of his wife and kept one hand on her back as if in need of support.

"Congratulations," the Asian woman said. "This is Jin-Ho." She transferred the baby to the mother's waiting arms, and then she unhitched a pink diaper bag from her shoulder and handed it to the father. The mother buried her face in the crook of the baby's neck. The baby stayed upright, gazing calmly out at the crowd. "Ah," people kept saying, and "Isn't she a cutie!" and "Did you ever see such a doll?"

Flashbulbs, insistent video cameras, everyone pressing too close. The father's eyes were wet. Lots of people's were; there were sniffing sounds all through the waiting area and noses being blown. And when the mother raised her face, finally, her cheeks were sheeted with tears. "Here," she told the father. "You hold her."

"Aw, no, I'm scared I might . . . You do it, honey. I'll watch."

The Asian woman started riffling through a sheaf of papers. People still disembarking had to step around her, step around the little family and the well-wishers and the tangle of baby equipment. Luckily, the flight hadn't been a full one. The passengers arrived in spurts: man with a cane, pause; retired couple, pause . . .

And then another Asian woman, younger than the first and plainer, with a tucked, apologetic way of looking about. She was lugging a bucket-shaped infant carrier by the handle, and you could tell that the baby inside must not weigh all that much. This baby, too, was a girl, if you could judge by the pink T-shirt, but she was smaller than the first one, sallow and pinched, with fragile wisps of black hair trailing down her forehead. Like the young woman transporting her, she showed a sort of anxious interest in the crowd. Her watchful black eyes moved too quickly from face to face.

The young woman said something that sounded like "Yaz-dun?"

"Yaz-dan," a woman called from the rear. It sounded like a correction. The crowd parted again, not certain which way to move but eager to be of help, and three people no one had noticed before approached in single file: a youngish couple, foreign-looking, olive-skinned and attractive, followed by a slim older woman with a chignon of sleek black hair knotted low on the nape of her neck. It must have been she who had called out their name, because now she called it again in the same clear, carrying voice. "Here we are. Yazdan." There was just the trace of an accent evident in the ruffled r's.

The young woman turned to face them, holding the carrier awkwardly in front of her. "Congratulations, this is Sooki," she said, but so softly and so breathlessly that people had to ask each other, "What?" "Who did she say?" "Sooki, I believe it was." "Sooki! Isn't that sweet!"

There was a problem unfastening the straps that held the baby in her carrier. The new parents had to do it because the Asian woman's hands were full, and the parents were flustered and unskilled--the mother laughing slightly and tossing back her explosive waterfall of hennaed curls, the father biting his lip and looking vexed with himself. He wore tiny, very clean rimless glasses that glittered as he angled first this way and then that, struggling with a plastic clasp. The grandmother, if that was who she was, made sympathetic tsk-tsking sounds.

But at last the baby was free. Such a little bit of a thing! The father plucked her out in a gingerly, arm's-length manner and handed her to the mother, who gathered her in and rocked her and pressed her cheek against the top of the baby's feathery black head. The baby quirked her eyebrows but offered no resistance. Onlookers were blowing their noses again, and the father had to take off his glasses and wipe the lenses, but the mother and the grandmother stayed dry-eyed, smiling and softly murmuring. They paid no attention to the crowd. When someone asked, "Is yours from Korea too?" neither woman answered, and it was the father, finally, who said, "Hmm? Oh. Yes, she is."

"Hear that, Bitsy and Brad? Here's another Korean baby!"

The first mother glanced around--she was allowing the two grandmas a closer inspection--and said, "Really?" Her husband echoed her: "Really!" He stepped over to the other parents and held out his hand. "Brad Donaldson. That's my wife, Bitsy, over there."

"How do you do," the second father said. "Sami Yazdan." He shook Brad's hand, but his lack of interest was almost comical; he couldn't keep his eyes off his baby. "Uh, my wife, Ziba," he added after a moment. "My mother, Maryam." He had a normal Baltimore accent, although he pronounced the two women's names as no American would have--Zee-bah and Mar-yam. His wife didn't even look up. She was cradling the baby and saying what sounded like "Soo-soo-soo." Brad Donaldson flapped a hand genially in her direction and returned to his own family.

By the time the transfers had been made official--both Asian women proving to be sticklers for detail--the Donaldson crowd had started to thin. Evidently some sort of gathering was planned for later, though, because people kept calling, "See you back at the house!" as they moved toward the terminal. And then the parents themselves were free to go, Bitsy leading the way while the woman with the stroller wheeled it just behind her like a lady-in-waiting. (Clearly nothing would persuade Bitsy to give up her hold on that baby.) Brad lumbered after her, followed by a few stragglers and, at the very tail end, the Yazdans. One of the Donaldson grandpas, the rumpled one, dropped back to ask the Yazdans, "So. Did you have a long wait for your baby? Lots of paperwork and cross-examinations?"

"Yes," Sami said, "a very long wait. A very long-drawn-out process." And he glanced toward his wife. "At times we thought it never would happen," he said.

The grandpa clucked and said, "Don't I know it! Lord, what Bitsy and Brad had to put themselves through!"

They passed to one side of Security, which was staffed by a lone employee sitting on a stool, and started down the escalator--all but the man with the bassinet. He had to take the elevator. The woman with the stroller, however, seemed undaunted. She tipped the front end of the stroller back smartly and stepped on without hesitation.

"Listen," Brad called up to the Yazdans from the lower level. "You-all feel like coming to our house? Joining the celebration?"

But Sami was absorbed in guiding his wife onto the escalator, and when he didn't answer, Brad flapped a hand again in that oh-well, affable way of his. "Maybe another time," he said to no one in particular. And he turned to catch up with the others.

The exit doors slid open and the Donaldsons streamed out. They headed toward the parking garage in twos and threes and fours, and shortly after that the Yazdans emerged to stand on the curb a moment, motionless, as if they needed time to adjust to the hot, humid, dimly lit, gasoline-smelling night.

Friday, August 15, 1997. The night the girls arrived.


Sometimes when Maryam Yazdan looked at her new little granddaughter she had an eerie, lightheaded feeling, as if she had stepped into some sort of alternate universe. Everything about the child was impossibly perfect. Her skin was a flawless ivory, and her hair was almost too soft to register on Maryam's fingertips. Her eyes were the shape of watermelon seeds, very black and cut very precisely into her small, solemn face. She weighed so little that Maryam often lifted her too high by mistake when she picked her up. And her hands! Tiny hands, with curling fingers. The wrinkles on her knuckles were halvah-colored (so amusing, that a baby had wrinkles!), and her nails were no bigger than dots.

Susan, they called her. They chose a name that resembled the name she had come with, Sooki, and also it was a comfortable sound for Iranians to pronounce.

"Su-san!" Maryam would sing when she went in to get her from her nap. "Su-Su-Su!" Susan would gaze out from behind the bars of her crib, sitting beautifully erect with one hand cupping each knee in a poised and self-possessed manner.

Maryam took care of her Tuesdays and Thursdays--the days her daughter-in-law worked and Maryam did not. She arrived at the house around eight-thirty, slightly later if the traffic was bad. (Sami and Ziba lived out in Hunt Valley, as much as a half-hour drive from the city during rush hour.) By that time Susan would be having breakfast in her high chair. She would light up and make a welcoming sound when Maryam walked into the kitchen. "Ah!" was what she most often said--nothing to do with "Mari-june," which was what they had decided she should call Maryam. "Ah!" she would say, and she would give her distinctive smile, with her lips pursed together demurely, and tilt her cheek for a kiss.

Well, not in the first few weeks, of course. Oh, those first weeks had been agony, the two parents trying their best, shrilling "Susie-june!" and shaking toys in her face and waltzing her about in their arms. All she did was stare at them, or--worse yet--stare away from them, twisting to get free, fixing her eyes stubbornly anywhere else. She wouldn't take more than a sip or two from her bottle, and when she woke crying in the night, as she did every few hours, her parents' attempts to comfort her only made her cry harder.

Reading Group Guide

1. In calling their baby Susan, the Yazdans “chose a name that resembled the name she had come with, Sooki, and also it was a comfortable sound for Iranians to pronounce” (p. 10). The Donald-sons keep their baby’s Korean name, Jin-Ho. What is the significance of these choices, both within the context of the novel and in the context of adoption in general? Is it important for an adoptive family to give children from another country or ethnic group a sense of their heritage? What insights does Ziba and Bitsy’s fractious disagreement about “Americanization” (p. 46) offer into this question?

2. Right from the start, Maryam feels a deep connection with Susan–“something around the eyes, some way of looking at things, some onlooker’s look: that was what they shared. Neither one of them quite belonged” (p. 13). Does Maryam’s pleasure in bonding with Susan hint at needs or emotions that she is unable or unwilling to acknowledge? To what extent does her insistence that she is “still and forever a guest, on her very best behavior” (p. 15) serve as a convenient excuse for remaining aloof from other people?

3. What aspects of her heritage does Maryam value most and why? Why is she so unsettled by her visit to Iran and her reactions to Iranians in the country (p. 39)? Why is she annoyed when her cousin’s American husband sprinkles bits of Farsi into his conversation (p. 147)? Why has she raised Sami to be “more American than the Americans” (p. 83), even as she clings to her otherness?

4. Does Maryam’s behavior show that she feels not only estranged from American society but also in some way superior to it? What specific incidents and conversations bring this aspect of her personality to light?

5. In addition to being a wonderfully amusing vignette, what is the import of Sami’s “performance piece” (pp. 80—81)? Why does Tyler use humor and mockery to convey a serious point about Americans and how they appear to immigrants? Does the fact that Sami is American-born and -raised make his criticisms more credible (and perhaps more acceptable) than they would be if a newcomer to the country expressed them?

6. How does Maryam differ from Ziba’s parents and her cousin Farah, the other Iranian immigrants depicted in the novel? What factors, both practical and psychological, influence the characters’ desire and ability to make a place for themselves in American society? What do these varying portraits show about the process of assimilation? Are there inherent contradictions between accepting the culture of an adopted homeland and retaining one’s ethnic identity?

7. 1How do Ziba and Betsy differ as women? As mothers? Which woman is more sympathetically drawn? How does Tyler use both negative and positive attributes to bring each woman to life? How do the women’s individual approaches to motherhood influence the

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way they regard and evaluate each other? Is Ziba overly susceptible to Bitsy’s criticism and suggestions? Does her friendship with Ziba, as well as her frequent encounters with Maryam, affect Bitsy’s beliefs or behavior? Does the relationship between Ziba and Bitsy change over the course of the book?
How do the portraits of Sami and Brad compare to those of their wives? Are their personalities as richly described? Do they play parallel roles within their families? Is their behavior in relation to their children and wives a reflection of their personalities and the nature of their marriages, or of cultural patterns, expectations, and values?

8. Does the romance between Dave and Maryam unfold in a realistic way? In addition to Dave’s moving reaction to Connie’s death, what other events or conversations show that he contains a depth and a self-awareness that Maryam and the others seem oblivious to?

9. What does Maryam’s description of her courtship and marriage to Sami’s father. (pp. 155—60) add to our image of her? Why has she chosen to keep the story to herself, not even sharing it with Sami?

10. Were you surprised by Maryam’s reaction to Dave’s proposal (pp. 211—14)? What does her conversation with Sami and Ziba reveal about her difficulties in reconciling her prejudices about Americans and her affection for Dave? In what ways do her protests also bring to light her ambivalent feelings about who she is and what she is willing to give up at this stage of her life? Why do you think Maryam makes the decision she does at the end of the book?

11. To what extent does Digging to America echo the themes and concerns Tyler explores in her previous novels? Do Tyler’s views on marriage and family here differ in significant ways from those presented in her earlier works? How does Digging to America compare to other books you have read that portray women trying to establish an identity apart from what is expected–or demanded– of them?

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Digging to America 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
On August 15, 1997 at the Baltimore airport, two couples each wait for the arrival of their newly adopted Korean infants. Bitsy and Brad Dickinson-Donaldson are openly ecstatic over their tiny Jin-Ho while a more subdued but just as elated Sami and Ziba Yazdan are exhilarated over their Sookie, who they rename Susan. In the waiting room, Bitsy and Brad host a baby shower gala with their family horde while the Yazdans only have his Iranian mother Maryam with them. Still this euphoric connection leads to a strong friendship between Bitsy and Brad Donaldson with.----- The extroverted Bitsy establishes an annual gala to celebrate Arrival Day. She and Ziba become especially close, but she fails in her efforts to reach out to Maryam, who detests the ugly Americans though she has been here for decades arriving as a teenage bride immigrant, whose son was born here and husband died here. She still feels like an outsider in the United States, but unwelcome in Iran. That suddenly changes when Bitsy¿s widower father Dave makes clear his intentions towards her that panic and exhilarate Maryam.----- DIGGING TO AMERICA is a great character study that digs deep into the adopting parents yet they, Dave and their respective children are secondary protagonists to the tale¿s prime player, Maryam. Readers will appreciate the support cast that includes the brashness of Bitsy the tenderness of Brad towards his two women the friendliness of Dave somewhat tamped by his grief for his wife and his need for Maryam Sami's aloofness toward Iran and America that frustrates his mom Ziba's exuberance towards the American dream for her baby. However, Maryam remains the focus as no one before Dave has gotten inside her perimeter, but he wonders if she will let him remain there. Anne Tyler provides a powerful contemporary tale that looks deep into the Americanization of Maryam that is worth reading.------ Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Digging to America was not what I invisioned from the title. It was a wonderful book about 2 families with different styles and backgrounds all wanting to be part of the American dream. The book features one traditional American (European background) family and a new American family (Mid-Eastern background). We learn about the fears, failures and joys of many of the characters. In the 40's it could have been about an Irish family instead of Middle Eastern.. the struggles are the same. How to merge the past, present and future together. What made this story even more intersting and complicated is that the story uses the adoption of two babies from the Korea as the focal point that creates the bond between all of the characters. If you only read one part of the book... read the one about getting rid of the pacifier. It was laugh out loud funny and one that could touch every mother.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, thru all of its writing, proves one thing over all. That is that people from one culture never, ever, completely trust those from another culture no matter how close they come to them and no matter how assimilated they become in the other's nation. This is too bad because all people should be able to get along because of their brain size, however, the only ones who seem to assimilate correctly and make a good life for themselves are animals (with small brains), and that is bad if we people are supposedly so much more 'gifted' than they are.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read most of Anne Taylor's other works and have either loved or at least very much liked them. Digging to America however will not be in either of those categories. I felt like I didn't really get to know any of the many (too many), characters in this book. Yes, there were several flashbacks as to what they went through in prior years, but not enough so I would feel any sort of attachment toward or care about any of them. Also, there was not much insight as to why certain characters would feel the way they do toward each other or why they act the way they do. Sorry, just not my idea of a good book.
kitch240 on LibraryThing 5 days ago
not enough conflict for me. Character development is a little weak. Couldn't figure out what it was about, or who it was about. Don't think I'll try Anne again - 2 strikes and she's out for me.
momofpets on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Liked this very much, finished it in three days.No central character but you get involved with each one and form your opinions about them. About 2 families adopting Korean children and their lives.
mbergman on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Tyler never disappoints, though this one's a little different than her usual. She usually introduces quirky characters that I know I wouldn't like in real life & makes me care about what happens to them. This book begins with two families--one mainstream suburban extended family; one couple & the man's mother, all Iranian immigrants--waiting at the Baltimore airport for the arrival of two Korena infants for adoption. We follow these families as they struggle to raise these girls & to develop an uneasy friendship through shared ritual occasions between the two extended families. Gradually, the story's focus shifts somewhat to the Iranian grandmother, who struggles with her "outsider" status in America, and her relationship with the widowed grandfather from the other family. Tyler is perhaps the most reliable writer I read regularly, & this book is no exception even though she's stretching herself.
harveywals on LibraryThing 6 days ago
In my experience, Anne Tyler is ALWAYS worth reading, and this novel is no exception. AT has a way of communicating the vulnerabilities of her characters that makes us care deeply about them. She's funny and refreshing in her outlook on the human condition. This story of two families - one white, one Iranian, who develop a friendship after adopting baby girls from Korea on the same day, is poignant and satisfying.
libmhleigh on LibraryThing 6 days ago
In 1997, two infant girls were adopted from Korea by American families. One family, the Donaldsons, are determined to raise their daughter Jin-Ho with as much of her native culture as possible, while the others, the second-generation Iranian-American Yazdans, attempt to make their new daughter, and themselves, as American-seeming as possible. There night the girls arrive on the same plane bonds the two families together, as they celebrate a commemorative ¿arrival party¿ every year. Although they do not always understand one another, they do become aware that they each have a lot to learn from the other.Quote: ¿The child asleep in Polly¿s lab bore almost no connection to the baby on the screen. The sudden ache she felt was very like grief, as if that first Jin-Ho had suddenly passed out of existence.¿I thought this book was excellent- definitely one that I could come back to. Experiencing the same process and life events with two different- very different- families was interesting, particularly because they are continually drawn to each other. The book follows individuals from four distinct cultures: the U.S., Iran, Korea, and, eventually, China, and considers their ¿Americanness¿ and their ¿otherness¿ together- how they have a huge number of differences, but are ultimately the same.
goldiebear on LibraryThing 6 days ago
I had a hard time relating to certain topics in the book, but others just seem to hit home. I have never been a big "baby" person personally. So for me, I get bored when that seems to be the topic at the time. But on the other hand, working with immigrant and refugees, I love the story line of the Iranians, especially the mother. I did however enjoy the character development. Tyler does an excellent job at letting the reader get a glimpse into each characters world. It adds a lot of depth to the book.
KarentheLibrarian on LibraryThing 6 days ago
I am not a big fan of Anne Tyler, but as an adoptive parent, I really enjoyed this book.
seasidereader on LibraryThing 6 days ago
It's been about a decade since I read an Anne Tyler, and I think that perhaps with her work more than some others', where one is with life experience and attitudes influences how well it is received. Digging to America had me laughing out loud listening to the marvelous narrator (Recorded Books, available as a rental) render Bitsy's relentless optimism, and in Tyler's hands, the detailed descriptions of everyday life, imparted with massive doses of dialog, manage to escape becoming tedious.
alanna1122 on LibraryThing 6 days ago
I really enjoyed this book. Anne Tyler has a way of weaving a compelling quiet story like no other author. I found the plot to be fresh and new and I cared about all of the characters - it was a great read.
mvanderlin on LibraryThing 6 days ago
I've never been a huge fan of Tyler but this book was fine. I can't see raving over it because it never really grabbed me to the point of "I can't wait to pick up my book." I think I'm learning that just slice of life books don't do it for me. However, if you like and enjoy learning more about certain cultures in a very unintimidating way, this may be the book for you.
banksh99 on LibraryThing 6 days ago
A good read, easy reading, nothing deep. I always enjoy Anne Tyler. I enjoyed the insights into Iranian-Americans.
autumnesf on LibraryThing 6 days ago
An interesting book about two families that adopt from Korea (and later one from China) that become friends. One of the families is your average middle class American and the other family is made up of immigrant Iranians. The thing that brings the families together is meeting at the airport when the Korean adoptee's are delivered to their new families, and one family makes it a point to start a relationship and celebrate "Arrival Day" for the girls. As adoptive parents, you will recognize the familiar clashes in child raising practices between the two families (working vs. non-working mothers, etc.) and seeing how the girls assimilate into their new families. Also, you get a look at how the Iranian immigrants adapt to life in America and how some always feel very much like an "other" instead of fitting in. That aspect is interesting as the adoptee's will also deal with this in some form as they grow up. I wonder if the Iranian parents will be more in-tune to those feelings when the children are older?
mhgatti on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Digging To America (like 2004's The Amateur Marriage), is noticeably different from her earlier work. This change in tone (to a much more serious one) and scope (still centered on families, but taking on society's larger issues) may reflect a post nine-eleven worldview or perhaps is just a natural maturation of Tyler's writing style. Whatever the reason, the change allows readers to better appreciate Tyler despite (or more likely, due to) not knowing what to expect style-wise.Unlike Tyler's usual exploration of her character's role in their family, Digging uses the adoption of two Asian babies by two dissimilar families to explore one's place in their family and their country (both their native and adopted). The two families become friends but raise their children quite differently, all the while keeping an eye on how their child's development compares to the other's. Tyler also spends quite a bit of time on the grandparents to show how a parent's upbringing affects their own childraising methods.Even though issues are taken more seriously and more directly here than in past Tyler books, it's just as well written as her previous novels. You might think more and laugh less, but Tyler's writing is just as strong and enjoyable in Digging as it is in the best of her earlier works.
mrstreme on LibraryThing 6 days ago
In Digging to America, Anne Tyler continued her storytelling mastery of family relationships ¿ but added a new twist. This story focused on two families, the Donaldsons and the Yadzans, who adopted girls from Korea. The Donaldsons represented the ¿typical¿ American family while the Yazdans represented a ¿typical¿ Iranian-American family. The couples became friends, and this story followed their lives during their first several years as new parents.The story meandered around the ups and downs of families: the best way to raise children, how to deal with the loss of a family member and what happens when a parent becomes ill. Tyler also examined the added dimension of being adoptive parents, especially of foreign-born children. However, the most interesting aspect of Digging to America was the exploration of what it means to be an ¿American family¿ and equally important, what it means to be an American. Compelling characterization ¿ especially of Bitsy Donaldson, the overbearing mother of Jin-Ho, and Maryam Yazdan, the traditional Iranian grandmother ¿ elucidated the challenges these families encountered as they learned about each other.In my opinion, you have to like the soft whisper of Anne Tyler to appreciate the style of this book. I noticed other reviewers commented that Digging to America lacked conflict, an advanced plot or multi-dimensional characters. I can see how one could make these conclusions. However, I would argue these elements are there ¿ just wrapped in Tyler¿s subtle style. By the end of the book, I was thinking about what it means to be an American and how easy it is to become cocooned in your own culture. Digging to America was not one of Tyler¿s best, but it certainly was not her worst. I would encourage fans of Anne Tyler to give this one a try.
Daisydaisydaisy on LibraryThing 6 days ago
An enjoyable read. I liked the insights into immigrant life and cultural differences.
bobbieharv on LibraryThing 6 days ago
One of her best later books, though more serious and not as funny as her very early ones. About two couples, one Iranian and one American, who each adopt Korean babies and the cultural assimilation process. Astute observations of Americanism.
LadyN on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Two culturally differing couples adopt babies from Korea, and forge a friendship based only on this common ground.I very much enjoyed this book, although it didn't quite take me in the direction I expected to go. Despite the very different attitudes to raising their adopted children, I felt that the two families still inhabited a very insular world, with little or no influence any source other than their own families. That said, I don't think the characters could have developed in the way they did had it not been for that seeming isolation from external influence forcing them to forge relationships only with each other.Tyler has created some beautifully drawn characters - the older generation particularly, and I would recommend Digging to America as a quick, fun read.
WittyreaderLI on LibraryThing 10 days ago
If you like characters who are lifelike as well as a story that will draw you in, check out this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Digging to America is a hard book to put down. Having Iranian friends, I enjoyed reading about the food and culture. This book made you stop and think about families who adopt Asian children. Very thought provoking. My only question would be to Ms. Tyler is "Would an Iranian family adopt an Asian child"? But it was interesting to read about how the American family raised their adopted Asian daughter and the Iranian family raised their adopted daughter. I loved all the characters, especially Maryam. She reminded me so much of the Iranian women I met through my friend. Independent and very intelligent. I can just picture her, dark hair and eyes and very beautiful. Anne Tyler was not as kind to the American women. She made them sound very unattractive with their baggy clothes. Enjoyed the book and would highly recommend.
NancyChase More than 1 year ago
I thought that Anne Tyler created a super story in "Digging to America" The book portrayed some of the hidden snares that are involved with the book's doptive families as they go about adopting their Korean daughters The story takes place in Baltimore, with two families from different cultures; a suburban Caucasian family and a Iranian family. These two families become the focus of the book since both have adopted a daughter from Korea. It's an interesting story and there lots of humorous discussions. Highly recommend.