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The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
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The Lowland (2013)

by Jhumpa Lahiri

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,4961543,929 (3.92)1 / 273
Brothers Subhash and Udayan Mitra pursue vastly different lives--Udayan in rebellion-torn Calcutta, Subhash in a quiet corner of America--until a shattering tragedy compels Subhash to return to India, where he endeavors to heal family wounds.
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English (150)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (154)
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
Remarkable... Shimmering... Ferociously good.. Splendid... Gorgeous...

Oh wait... those were just the dust jacket quotes. I don't know what book those reviewers were reading, or if they were cranked up on something, but they don't describe this novel.

It's capably written and carries along well enough... yet is also a touch bland and plodding. Some of the plot turns might evoke more emotional response if the characters didn't all seem so remote. Both in how they are rendered as well as how they come across.

Might be a 3.5.
( )
  reg_lt | Feb 7, 2020 |
I found this book to be slow and without much plot or substance
Quite frankly, I did not like or care about any of the characters
So disappointing ( )
  karenshann | Dec 31, 2019 |
So fucking good. Beautifully written, Lahiri tells a great story without getting in the way.
I'm not usually a fan of switching POVs and big time jumps in novels, but she handles it with grace. Making connections between times and people without slapping you in the face with it.

A great read. Emotionally affecting without getting maudlin.

Also it started out all man-centric, but oh, what a red herring that was. ( )
  urnmo | Jul 29, 2019 |
I am a fan of Lahiri and have read all her books. The Lowland was beautifully written and I was drawn into the story at the start. However, the most interesting part of the book occurs in first 100 pages. The rest of the book feels like an extended epilogue with occasional snippets filing in the gaps of the earlier story.

Still her writing is so compelling, I couldn't put the book down. ( )
  TMullins | Jun 19, 2019 |
Beautiful but sad and slow book about two brothers, one of whom is killed in India for his leftist activities. The other brother marries his dead brother’s pregnant wife and moves to the US.
  JoshSapan | May 29, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
The Lowland is a novel about the rashness of youth, as well as the hesitation and regret that can make a long life not worth living.
added by zhejw | editNPR, Maureen Corrigan (Oct 7, 2013)
 
Darkly hued fiction is commonplace in contemporary writing, but The Lowlands is sombre in a distinctly old-fashioned way; it’s not late-stage capitalism and/or environmental collapse that generate the misery in the novel, but rather that quaint concept of fate, or at least character-as-fate. Which is one reason why contemporary readers might balk at this story, its position on the shortlist for the 2013 Man Booker Prize notwithstanding. These lives seem rigged.
added by zhejw | editToronto Star, Patricia Hluchy (Oct 1, 2013)
 
There is real story bravery at work here. It would have been much easier for Lahiri to keep us in the thrust and heave of political agitation — to fixate, perhaps, on the implied betrayal woven into Subhash’s rescue.

Instead, in “The Lowland,” Lahiri tells a quietly devastating story about the nature of kindness. How it is never pure and often goes largely unrewarded. It simply is, and then the floodwaters rise and obscure its role in the landscape for a time.
added by zhejw | editBoston Globe, John Freeman (Sep 28, 2013)
 
Her prose, as always, is a miracle of delicate strength, like those threads of spider silk that, wound together, are somehow stronger than steel....

Although writing this fine is easy to praise, it’s not always easy to enjoy. And there’s something naggingly synthetic about this tableau of woe. “They were a family of solitaries,” Lahiri writes. “They had collided and dispersed.” But real people are not such shiny billiard balls of sorrow. I couldn’t shake the impression that Subhash and Gauri are being subjected to the author’s insistence on creating a certain sustained effect, as though they were characters in a fable. The years pass like the pages of a calendar being blown between scenes of a silent movie. Every time we catch up with this sad couple, they seem not to have changed at all, except that the plaque of guilt and secrecy has grown thicker. The ordinary complications of daily life do not dilute their desolation or complicate their lives. Gauri spends decades studying philosophy, but somehow the world’s accumulated wisdom never offers her any solace or disruption or insight. She might as well have been studying accounting or geology.

Perhaps these are petty complaints about a book that’s written with such poignancy. If parts of “The Lowland” feel static, it’s also true that Lahiri can accelerate the passage of time in moments of terror with mesmerizing effect.
added by zhejw | editWashington Post, Ron Charles (Sep 24, 2013)
 
Lahiri has an uncanny ability to control and mold sentences and action, imbuing the characters with dignity and restraint. But for me, this was also the novel's weakness; too often the narration felt cold, almost clinical, leaving me longing for a moment of thaw. I felt ambivalent. It's an intelligently structured book and while the tone and the pace rarely vary, the reader is always sure she is in the hands of a writer of integrity and skill. Yet I still yearned to know more about these people, especially Gauri....

Lahiri is an accomplished writer and though I felt, at times, disappointed, in the end I was sure that there is an important truth here — that life often denies us understanding, and sometimes all there is to hold on to is our ability to endure.
added by zhejw | editNPR, Ellah Allfrey (Sep 23, 2013)
 
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Epigraph
lascia ch'io torni al mio paese sepolto

nell'erba come in un mare caldo e pesante.

let me return to my home town entombed

in grass as in a warm and high sea.

- Giorgio Bassani, "Saluto a Roma"
Dedication
For Carin, who believed from the begining, and Alberto, who saw me to the end.
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East of the Tolly Club, after Deshapran Sashmal Road splits in two, there is a small mosque.
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From Subhash's earliest memories, his brother was there. In the suburban streets of Calcutta where they wandered before dusk, Udayan was always in his older brother's sight. So close in age, they were inseparable and yet, as the years pass - as US tanks roll into Vietnam and riots sweep across India - their brotherly bond can do nothing to forestall the tragedy that will upend their lives. Udayan 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, and in doing so will transform the futures of those dearest to him
Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portrayal of lives undone and forged anew, The Lowland is a deeply felt novel of family ties that ineluctably define who we are.
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