Digging to America

Tyler, Anne. Digging to America. Vintage Books (London: 2007).

Digging to AmericaOne of the milder of Tyler’s novels, centered around a set of character studies. Iranian immigrant Maryam realizes that she’s defined herself as an outsider — and yet somehow, in spite of herself, she becomes part of an unlikely pairing of families, and comes to care about the very type of Americans that she thinks she’ll never understand. For writers: Less is more here, but it works. The problems have an everyday quality, but the people are brought to life with such particularity in how they act and what they say, that we can’t help becoming invested in them. Like Maryam, we end up caring about these characters, in a deft application of “show, don’t tell.”