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Extended Audio Sample Digging to America: A Novel, by Anne Tyler Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (11,227 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Anne Tyler Narrator: Blair Brown Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2006 ISBN: 9780739333112
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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.
  • One of the 2006 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eva Silverstone | 2/17/2014

    " I thought I wouldn't like this book at first because the characters are whiny about eachother but I grew to like them and enjoyed the nuances. I particularly liked Maryam and her feelings of "otherness" and also descriptions of her family. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jay | 2/10/2014

    " Well written story nominally about adoption but yielding to a parenting story then to a culture clash love story. Funny bits about pacifier habit breaking and the deeper meaning to "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain". Fine for a family drama. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ray Charbonneau | 1/23/2014

    " Good characterizations. Too bad there wasn't much of a plot. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jenny | 1/13/2014

    " This was an interesting story, but the author just didn't do it for me...it could have been so much better. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jodi | 1/12/2014

    " The author's concept of exploring cultural differences here in the States made this a fun and yet, at times, thought provoking read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Margaret | 1/10/2014

    " loved this...sweet book...lived a bit of this life thru family... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel Brand | 1/9/2014

    " This isn't a book which I probably would have chosen to read if it hadn't appeared on someone's swaplist on RiSi, but despite this I ended up really enjoying it and found it very hard to put down. The main characters - Ziba and Sami, Bitsy and Brad - annoyed me a bit to start with, but because they were such realistic characters they grew on me. Bitsy's "know it all" attitude and Ziba's "copy-cat" attitude changed throughout the book as all of the characters grew. The book took place over a short period of time, maybe only five or six years, and I think I would have preferred to read more from the girls' points of view, perhaps as they grew from children to adults, and find out what they thought about their respective parents' very different ideas about bringing up adopted children. Despite the book focusing on Maryam and Dave for the most of the middle part we still got to see Susan and Jin-ho growing up, and see the various relatives of the children and the different ways that the Iranian and American relatives behaved at the Arrival Parties. I gained a lot of insight into the traditions of Iranians - something which I know little about as the majority of people living in my area are either Scottish or Polish - and it was pretty interesting comparing the two childrens' upbringing. It makes you wonder what you'd do if you adopted a child from a foreign country - to what extent would you embrace their country of origin's culture? I have an uncle who is adopted, but his situation is rather different; he is half African, half Irish, but was born in England and adopted into a English residing family with a dad who is half English/Indian and a mum who is completely English. So it's kind of hard to compare that situation. But, anyway! I really enjoyed this book. I wasn't quite sure where it was heading with anyone - Maryam and Dave's relationship, Susan and Jin-ho's friendship, Ziba and Bitsy's changing friendship and attitudes - and I don't think the author did either, as the ending is left rather open, which is a bit disappointing. I kind of knew that Maryam had changed at the end, but it would have been nice for it to be tied up with a pretty bow :) It was a really enjoyable read and makes me want to go and read more books about adoption. And maybe some more by Anne Tyler, too. 8/10 "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sage | 1/6/2014

    " I liked tis one a lot. Have read some of this writer's work before and appreciate the style; her attention to detail, warmth, quiet moments of emotion, how complex people are. A few of the characters in this are infuriating but it's never so bad you'd stop reading. The story was interesting, though it does get left hanging a bit. It says some interesting things about what it means to be American, or not; but also the general themes of human nature. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbara | 12/31/2013

    " Just enough romance, just enough conflict...I keep telling my Iranian friend at work "You have to read this book!" "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Connie | 12/21/2013

    " I love this author but this wasn't my favorite... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leslie Jem | 12/11/2013

    " Not Tyler's best book, but still full of lovable, exasperating, real people. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liliane | 12/2/2013

    " Not wonderful, but worth the read for the insight into the adoption experience from the parents' point of view as well as a peek into Iranian-American culture. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kaethe | 11/18/2013

    " The idea of foreignness explored. Well done, but I think the Tyler melancholy doesn't appeal as much anymore. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tamra | 11/13/2013

    " I never can really figure what Anne Tyler is really getting at in any of her books. This one was confusing to me; there were no heros, no villians, probably some truism but I missed it completely. I did not care for the charactars either. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Judy-Sug | 9/6/2013

    " Deals with two families who simultaneously adopt Korean daughters. One family is Iranian, the other American. How the families interact and the relationships are the meat of the story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 5/26/2013

    " Wonderful book, great characters, great exploration of existence and culture. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patti | 2/16/2013

    " I read this for book club, it was good and worth reading...I did enjoy it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarahdhesi | 2/9/2013

    " It was just unputdownable and I immediately rushed to the library for more "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marie | 1/25/2013

    " Read only one chapter. Couldn't get into it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Debbie | 12/9/2012

    " DIdn't like this book very much, no depth to the story, the characters were thinly drawn. I got bored waiting for something to happen, or for a character to develop, but when nothing surfaced, I gave up on it midway. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Annette | 11/13/2012

    " Loved. I listened to this at work and I cried in front of my co-workers when the babies arrived. Ann Tyler is amazing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rhodora | 11/6/2012

    " 2 families in Baltimore adopt baby girls from Korea and keep in touch throughout the years. Very good writing. I thought it was going to turn into a diatribe about adoption but it turned into a great story about people and their emotions. Can't wait for her next book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mum | 4/12/2012

    " I think this book is one of the best she has written. Our book club enjoyed it, even those who aren't fans of Anne Tyler. It's depiction of adoption and adjusting to new cultures felt authentic. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sue | 4/12/2012

    " i have had this book in "my stack" for a long, long time and finally got around to reading it. not a barn burner. it is about a family trying to assimilate in the united states. lots of typical stereotypes. not so crazy about the topic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Angie | 4/1/2012

    " This was definitely my least favorite Anne Tyler book. I love the voice in her past books, but this one sounded like someone else wrote it! The story was good though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Janet Clark | 7/9/2011

    " It took some time to take shape as a story. A quiet read with a good message about immigration and some of the things it means to be an American. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Heather | 6/18/2011

    " I kept falling asleep....I'm sure it's a good book. I just wasn't that into it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrea | 6/13/2011

    " I love Anne Tyler's writing style and this book was great. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 6/10/2011

    " I have been reading Anne Tyler's books forever. I liked hearing the story from a few of the character's voices. I appreciated the perspective Iranian immigrants and their children as 1st generation Americans juxtaposed with the american family, "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gwen | 5/30/2011

    " I read this in an airport, which I kind of think is the only appropriate place to read a book like this. It's not that great, it's not so bad. It's mostly harmless. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Linda | 5/28/2011

    " Not nearly as engaging as other Anne Tyler novels I've read. Were it not a book club pick I don't think I would have finished it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kelly | 5/25/2011

    " interesting view of American life, with so many cultures mixing here "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debra | 5/24/2011

    " I struggled with this book. While the characters were interesting, I couldn't figure out the point of the book or where it was headed. Not very satisfying at the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Donna | 5/11/2011

    " Loved this book. It was amusing and delightful, and of course, it portrayed social and cultural magnification integral to the story, as typical with Anne Tyler.. "

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