Digging to America

  • by Anne Tyler
  • Narrated by Blair Brown
  • 8 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Anne Tyler's richest, most deeply searching novel, a story about what it is to be an American, and about Iranian-born Maryam Yazdan, who, after 35 years in this country, must finally come to terms with her "outsiderness". Two families, who would otherwise never have come together, meet by chance at the Baltimore airport: the Donaldsons, a very American couple, and the Yazdans, Maryam's fully assimilated son and his attractive Iranian wife. Each couple is awaiting the arrival of an adopted infant daughter from Korea. After the instant babies from distant Asia are delivered, Bitsy Donaldson impulsively invites the Yazdans to celebrate: an "arrival party" that from then on is repeated every year as the two families become more and more deeply intertwined. Even Maryam is drawn in, up to a point. When she finds herself being courted by Bitsy Donaldson's recently widowed father, all the values she cherishes - her traditions, her privacy, her otherness - are suddenly threatened.
A luminous novel brimming with subtle, funny, and tender observations that immerse us in the challenges of both sides of the American story.

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What the Critics Say

"Digging to America succeeds on many levels - as a satire of millennial parenting, a tribute to autumn romances, and most important, an exploration of our risible (though poignant) attempts to welcome otherness into our midst." (Atlantic Monthly)
"Handling time with a light touch, Tyler creates many blissful moments of high emotion and keen humor while broaching hard truths about cultural differences, communication breakdowns, and family configurations. This deeply human tale of valiantly improvised lives is one of Tyler's best." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Life in transition

If you (or someone dear to you) has ever felt like a permanent outsider in another culture, you are sure to find this book fascinating. By coincidence, two families happen to meet at a Baltimore airport. They are both there for the same reason. Each is adopting a baby arriving on a flight from Korea. One family is mainstream American (the Donaldson-Dickensons) and embraces multiculturalism, even if somewhat clumsily and offensively at times. The other family (the Yazdans) are Iranian-American. The baby's grandmother, Maryam Yazdan, is attractive, stylish, and somewhat elusive. She, in particular, seems caught between trying to blend in and not wanting fully to blend in with aspects of American culture that might make some of us cringe. Each character in the story presents with a unique predicament around the theme of cultural transition: Maryam's son, born in America, but uncertain about Iranian customs; the two babies, each brought up aware of their Korean origins, but minimally interested in that fact; garrulous Bitsy Dickenson (or is it, Donaldson?) who embraces her child's Korean birth and welcomes the Yazdans' Iranian background with occasionally overbearing curiosity; etc. This is a warm, sometimes funny novel about all kinds of transitions, including growing up and growing old. Like most of Anne Tyler's writing, "Digging to America" is effortless to read (or listen to). She seems keenly to have observed her characters, rather than to have invented them. Blair Brown's reading is superb.
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- Everett Leiter

Blah, blah, blah

I really wanted to like this book but I just couldn't. It followed two families but nothing ever happened. When there was the opportunity to go deep, the author just blew past it. I had nothing else to listen to and it was still tooooo boring to finish. Save your book credits for something else.
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- Sindi

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-27-2006
  • Publisher: Random House Audio