The eight stories in Unaccustomed Earth fall into two groups. The first five share only themes; the characters and settings are independent of one another. The last three can be read independently, but work better as they are designed: as a triptych telling the story of Hema and Kaushik. The first story focuses on their meeting as children; the second follows Kanushik when his father remarries; the third focuses on their reunion as adults.
However, no matter how distinct the plot twists or character circumstances in any of the stories, as a collection Unaccustomed Earth is markedly unified. All stories focus on members of Bengali families dealing with England or America. All are richly detailed, painting portraits of the complexity of these families' lives; all deal with making and remaking lives, loves, and identities in the wake of radical disruptions. Often families reform after a family member has died. Sometimes they must learn to function again after an ending of another kind, as when Rahul Mukherjee becomes an alcoholic in "Only Goodness." However, in addition to these disruptions, which could happen to any family, there are always ripples of culture shock. The gap between India and America, or rather, between traditional India as it was, and America as it is coming to be, is brought vividly to life. The result is a set of lovely and accessible stories that blend the cultural and the individual, the exotic and the strikingly domestic.