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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.

©2006 Anne Tyler (P)2006 Random House Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What listeners say about Digging to America

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Must Read

I loved this book! Once again Anne Tyler has written a wonderful and engaging novel. Definitely one of her best.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable Listen!

This was an enjoyable audiobook. Starts off in an airport, where two young American couples are meeting their adopted Korean baby girls for the first time. One couple is of Iranian descent while the other is very "American". Their chance meeting leads to annual reunions which eventually lead to a close friendship between the families. The book wanders through cultures, through life stories and through time, often going back and forth in an easy way which entertains and offers insight into the lives of the characters and into their cultural heritage. It's an easy listen, relaxing and good for a rainy weekend.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Strong Ending

Last chapter made this occasionally slow moving novel seem worthwhile. Good characters but story sometimes lagged.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Tyler is in top form

As a longtime fan of Anne Tyler, and a former 15 year resident of Baltimore, I found her latest volume her best in many years. With a light, observant style, she explores a variety of engaging themes: adoption, modern parenting, assimilation, cultural identity and American-Iranian culture. Her wry asides about Baltimore neighborhoods and middle class culture are always a treat. Blair Brown captures the Iranian phrasing and lilt beautifully too, so it's a pleasure to listen to.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Warm and Charming

As a lover of all of Anne Tyler's books I probably have a predisposition coming in but I felt this book was wonderful. The characters are so real and believable. Blair Brown's reading really makes the story come alive. I didn't want it to end.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Narrative

The book itself is average, but narration was on nerve, didn’t understand the accent by which Iranians are speaking. Would encourage narrator to dig in more in accents.There must be a confusion cause the accent is more of english with Indian accent rather than Iranian.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Why is an optional heading a requirement?

The story was great with a wonderful ending. The narrative was easy to understand by this hard of hearing person.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

perfect, vintage Tyler.

I've been an Anne Tyler fan since I found a copy of Accidental Tourist in a sale bin back in the 1980s. This book shows she has only gotten better with the decades.

I love that half of her characters in this novel are Iranian, as was Tyler's own husband. My 'ear' doesn't have the subtlety to know if the narrator's Farsi accent is authentic, but I really love how she voices those characters! I also love that Tyler portrays them as such a rich and diverse group, from the slightly wacky cousin married to the Vermont Hippy hobbyist inventor, to the modern fashionable daughter-in-law interior decorator who buys her Korean-born adopted daughter the latest toys and sends her to ballet and private schools.

My favorite character? Has to be Maryam. I love her introverted perfectly-mannered interior life. She's not perfect, but you can see the heart there. Best chapter? It's gotta be the Binky Party, seen thru the eyes of the Big Sister. I kept wanting to SHAKE Bitsy throughout it, but that's the beauty of Anne Tyler novels to me: even when her characters are really ruthlessly unlikeable, they are also portrayed with such compassion and honesty, I fall in love with the whole lot of them every time.

I think I'll have to buy another Tyler novel with my next credit! So many to choose from Yay.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved It!

When I read some of the reviews of this book, I wondered if the reviewers had listened to the same book I had. I enjoyed it as much as any of the other Anne Tyler books I've read/listened to. Blair Brown did an excellent job with the narration.