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.
Anne Tyler, an American novelist, is also an author of short stories and is a literary critic. She has had 22 novels published, being cited in literary publications as creating fully developed characters and commended for her accurate attention to detail. Some of her more well-known novels are: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, The Accidental Tourist, Breathing Lessons, and A Spool of Blue Thread. She has been compared to John Updike, Jane Austin, and Eudora Welty.
Tyler was born in Minneapolis Minnesota, as the oldest of four children to a chemist Dad and a social worker Mother. They were Quakers who lived in a series of Quaker communes, one being formed by conscientious objectors, as Anne was age 7 through 11. Her practical, hands on education was supplemented by correspondence school. Her first short stories, she told to herself under the covers at 3 years of age, to try to get sleepy. Her favorite book was The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton, and had a profound influence on her ability to show "how the years flowed by, people altered, and nothing could ever stay the same". Her early perception of changes over time appear and reappear in Tyler's novels, just as her favorite book, The Little House, appears in her first novel.
Tyler considered herself to be an outsider in public schools, but also attributed that same feeling as having been a valuable asset in her writing success. Her other credit is given to a former high school English teacher, Phillis Peacock. Seven years after high school, Tyler dedicated her first published novel to "Mrs. Peacock, for everything you've done".
Tyler has won many literary awards including a Pulitzer. She remains closely associated with the city of Baltimore, Maryland, her home since 1967, and is the location used in many of her books. Her husband died in 1997, and their two daughters have gone on to careers in the arts.