Digging to America
In her 17th novel, Anne Tyler trains her writerly eye on two very different American families: the Donaldsons and the Yazdans, who meet at the airport the day their adopted daughters arrive from Korea. As usual, Tyler’s focus is brilliant, and so are her insights, amassed from thousands of acutely observed daily details. But the soul of the story — Maryam, the Iranian-born matriarch of the Yazdan family — never springs to life on the page, and the Donaldsons come off as braying, overblown caricatures of upper-middle-class white Americans. For all of Tyler’s writerly gifts — and she has many — it’s hard to enjoy Digging to America: The characters are just that unlikeable.