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The Lowlandby Jhumpa Lahiri
In The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri tells the story of two brothers who share everything as children but begin to pull apart as they grow older. Their childhood is set against a 1960s poverty rebellion known as the Naxalite movement in Calcutta, India. However, the focus here is not politics but rather family, love, duty, truth, honor, and happiness. Quiet, heart-wrenching, and beautiful, The Lowland asks the impossible-to-answer question, What will you do for what you believe? Lahiri's storytelling is masterful and her prose is gorgeous.
Synopses & Reviews
Shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author of The Namesake comes an extraordinary new novel, set in both India and America, that expands the scope and range of one of our most dazzling storytellers: a tale of two brothers bound by tragedy, a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past, a country torn by revolution, and a love that lasts long past death.
Born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the other in the Calcutta neighborhood where they grow up. But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead. It is the 1960s, and Udayan — charismatic and impulsive — finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty; he will give everything, risk all, for what he believes. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother’s political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America.
But when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family’s home, he goes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family, and to heal the wounds Udayan left behind — including those seared in the heart of his brother’s wife.
Masterly suspenseful, sweeping, piercingly intimate, The Lowland is a work of great beauty and complex emotion; an engrossing family saga and a story steeped in history that spans generations and geographies with seamless authenticity. It is Jhumpa Lahiri at the height of her considerable powers.
"Lahiri's (The Namesake) haunting second novel crosses generations, oceans, and the chasms that despair creates within families. Subhash and Udayan are brothers, 15 months apart, born in Calcutta in the years just before Indian independence and the country's partition. As children, they are inseparable: Subhash is the elder, and the careful and reserved one; Udayan is more willful and wild. When Subhash moves to the U.S. for graduate school in the late 1960s, he has a hard time keeping track of Udayan's involvement in the increasingly violent Communist uprising taking place throughout West Bengal. The only person who will eventually be able to tell Subhash, if not quite explain, what happened to his brother is Gauri, Udayan's love-match wife, of whom the brothers' parents do not approve. Forced by circumstances, Gauri and Subhash form their own relationship, one both intimate and distant, which will determine much of the rest of their adult lives. Lahiri's skill is reflected not only in her restrained and lyric prose, but also in her moving forward chronological time while simultaneously unfolding memory, which does not fade in spite of the years. A formidable and beautiful book. 350,000-copy announced first printing. Agent: Eric Simonoff, WME Entertainment. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“An absolute triumph. Lahiri uses a gorgeously rendered Calcutta landscape to profound effect....As shocking complexities tragedies, and revelations multiply, Lahiri astutely examines the psychological nuances of conviction, guilt, grief, marriage, and parenthood, and delicately but firmly dissects the moral conundrums inherent in violent revolution. Renowned for her exquisite prose and penetrating insights, Lahiri attains new heights of artistry — flawless transparency, immersive intimacy with characters and place—in her spellbinding fourth book and second novel. A magnificent, universal, and indelible work of literature....Lahiri’s standing increases with each book, and this is her most compelling yet.” Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
“Gorgeous....The painful partitioning of a great country is echoed in the life of one family in Lahiri’s novel of love’s tragic missteps and the sustained devastation of personal independence. The Lowland’s beating heart is the relationship between two devoted brothers....Lahiri’s beautifully wrought characters make decisions that isolate them inside their haunted thoughts.” Susanna Sonnenberg, More
“Leave it to Lahiri to create yet another novel that’s as transporting and educational as it is beautiful and emotive. The Lowland explores the bonds of love, family, and obligation against backdrops from the radical Naxalite movement of 1960s Calcutta to the tidal shores of collegiate Rhode Island....A writer of Lahiri’s caliber is always greeted with fanfare, but The Lowland is among the biggest events of the season.” Elle
“Pulitzer Prize-winner Lahiri’s unparalleled ability to transform the smallest moments into whole lives pinnacles in this extraordinary story of two brothers coming of age in the political tumult of 1960s India....Lahiri is remarkable, achieving multilayered meaning in a simple act....[This is] is deservedly one of this year’s most anticipated books. Banal words of praise simply won’t do justice; perhaps what is needed is a three-word directive: just read it.” Library Journal (starred review)
“A classic story of family and ideology at odds, love and risk closely twined....Lahiri’s subject has always been the complex roots of families, cut and transplanted, trailing thwarted dreams and former selves....The Lowland, her most ambitious work to date, marks the author’s shift in perspective toward that of a parent, with all its heightened vulnerability....As the stripped-down sentences accrue with a kind of geologic inevitability, Lahiri renders the undertow of grief and loss....Novels are often elegies for things that would otherwise be lost to time. Here, over the passing decades, a sacred marshland is sold to developers; a daughter loses a mother, then becomes one. An author, at the height of her artistry, spins the globe and comes full circle.” Megan O’Grady, Vogue
“I wait for Lahiri’s books as if they’re rare comets and hold them in my hands like my firstborn.” Megan Angelo, Glamour
“A tale of two continents in an era of political tumult, rendered with devastating depth and clarity by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author. The narrative proceeds from the simplicity of a fairy tale into a complex novel of moral ambiguity and aftershocks, with revelations that continue through decades and generations until the very last page....The story of two brothers in India who are exceptionally close to each other, and yet completely different, the novel spans more than four decades in the life of [their] family, shaped and shaken by the events that have brought them together and tear them apart....Lahiri has earned renown for her short stories, [yet] this masterful novel deserves to attract an even wider readership.” Kirkus (starred review)
About the Author
Jhumpa Lahiri is the author of three previous works of fiction: Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake and, most recently, Unaccustomed Earth. A recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, a PEN/Hemingway Award, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2012.
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