Digging to America

A Novel

Publisher: Seal Books
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.

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.
...
Read More

READING 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." The Donaldsons keep their baby’s Korean name, Jin-Ho. What is the significance of these choices, both within the context of the novel...

Read More

PRAISE FOR

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSE
NATIONAL BESTSELLER
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2006


“Tyler shapes her stories with a reassuring and uplifting clarity.” —The Gazette (Montreal)

“As in her previous books, the writing here makes for wholesome, comforting fare, spiced as always with urbane wit and a knack for nailing the small truths behind fine details.” —The Globe and Mail

“In Digging to America, Tyler also holds up a mirror to the wider North American culture, especially the contemporary obsession with child-rearing that makes young children kings and queens in their households. . . . You’ll find yourself laughing at all the apt and telling details Tyler summons up to capture how these two families interact — and often fail to understand each other.” —Vancouver Sun

“Tyler is an adept cultural chronicler. . . . She zeroes in on the minutiae of social encounters. . . . Hers is a portrait of small segment of society painted in elaborate detail.” —National Post

“A subtle lesson in how to embrace other cultures — how to go beyond tolerance to love.” —Winnipeg Free Press

“In Digging to America, Tyler exhibits her knack for softening the sharp edges of human contact, showing people with smudges of vulnerability on their faces as they dig toward each other.” —Toronto Star

“Her prose is at once unpretentious and elegiac, like a photograph by Dorothea Lange, and her imagery has staying power. Taken together, the distinct but overlapping worlds of her novels have formed a Sensurround literary record of the 20th-century American family.” —The New York Times

“Warm and optimistic, this story about adoption raises issues of belonging and identity” The Times (UK)

“Anne Tyler returns to her subtle best with a novel about families involved in international adoptions” —Observer (UK)

“In Digging to America, Tyler also holds up a mirror to the wider North American culture, especially the contemporary obsession with child-rearing that makes young children kings and queens in their households…. You’ll find yourself laughing at all the apt and telling details Tyler summons up to capture how these two families interact — and often fail to understand each other.” — The Vancouver Sun

“Anne Tyler’s richest, most deeply searching novel.” — The Daily News (Halifax)

“Tyler is an adept cultural chronicler. . . . She zeroes in on the minutiae of social encounters. . . . Hers is a portrait of small segment of society painted in elaborate detail.” — National Post
“The appearance of a new novel by Anne Tyler is like the arrival of an old friend . . . With her 17th novel, Tyler has delivered something startlingly fresh while retaining everything we love about her work . . . Her success at portraying culture clash and the complex longings and resentments of those new to America confirms what we knew, or should have known, all along: There’s nothing small about Tyler’s world, nothing precious about her attention to the hopes and fears of ordinary people.”
–Ron Charles, Washington Post Book World
“Ms. Tyler deserves her reputation as a master of the fine threads of human relationships. The barely registered slights, fleeting intuitions and shivers of pity that pass between these characters are a pleasure to behold.”
–Tara Gallagher, The Wall Street Journal
“Anne Tyler has written 17 novels and you only wish for more. Her newest, Digging to America, is wonderfully wry, yet intimately involving. There’s a definite sense of loss when it’s over and done.”
–Sheryl Connelly, New York Daily News
“Tyler encompasses the collision of cultures without losing her sharp focus on the daily dramas of modern family life in her 17th novel . . . [A] touching, humorous story.”
Publishers Weekly
“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.”
–Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
“The veteran novelist extends her range without losing her essence in this tale of two families drawn together by their adopted daughters despite the friction created by their very different personalities and ethnicities . . . The ensuing culture clash enriches Tyler’s narrative without diminishing her skills as an engaging storyteller and delicate analyst of personality . . . Readers will hope that these flawed, lovable people will find happiness, but they won’t be sure until the final page, so deftly has the author balanced the forces that keep us apart against those that bring us together. Vintage Tyler, with enough fresh, new touches to earn her the next generation of fans.”
Kirkus Reviews
“The author’s 17th novel exemplifies her skill at depicting seemingly quiet and unremarkable lives with sympathy and humor . . . A touching, well-crafted tale of friendship, families, and what it means to be an American.”
Library Journal (starred review)