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The Lowland | [Jhumpa Lahiri]

The Lowland

Born just 15 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 15 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.

Long-listed for the 2013 Man Booker Prize

©2013 Jhumpa Lahiri (P)2013 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"Haunting... A novel that crosses generations, oceans, and the chasms within families... 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." (Publishers Weekly)

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (758 )
5 star
 (236)
4 star
 (296)
3 star
 (158)
2 star
 (44)
1 star
 (24)
Overall
3.9 (665 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.2 (653 )
5 star
 (289)
4 star
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3 star
 (91)
2 star
 (24)
1 star
 (16)
Performance
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  •  
    Christopher Borges Bakersfield, CA USA 04-18-15
    Christopher Borges Bakersfield, CA USA 04-18-15
    ratings
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    1
    1
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    "Mesmerizing and beautifully written"

    I've read everything Lahiri has written, and this book is just another example of why she's such a fine writer. While her stories are always couched in the Indian American experience, they resonate simply because they're so truthful, poignant, and beautiful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Cohen Encino, CA 03-18-15
    C. Cohen Encino, CA 03-18-15 Member Since 2014

    audio book lover

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "beautifully written, terribly sad"

    Yhe performance was excellent, but the story nelver seemed to have a light moment. It took me longer to finish than usual because it moved me but in a sad way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rose Haluschak 03-15-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Pulls at your heart"

    Wow! What a story. I am really glad that I listened to this book. It really helped to hear the pronunciations of the characters' names and places. Jumps Lahiri writes another powerful book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ontariorose 09-10-14
    Ontariorose 09-10-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Masterful Storytelling"
    If you could sum up The Lowland in three words, what would they be?

    FascinatingCredibleTragic


    What other book might you compare The Lowland to and why?

    Tandia by Bryce Courtney. I especially enjoy literature with complex plots, characterization and details that capture the culture. Courtney does that in Tandia and so does Lahiri. It is all in the details for me. Both authors demonstrate an amazing ability to incorporate details that capture the heart of a foreign land and its people - the contrast between American family life other families in the world is so credible. Lahiri has captured it to a tee! Both authors are insightful and clever storytellers!I am so tired of the "much ado about nothing' American detective stories. Too shallow and too self absorbed. Tandia and Lowlands take us outside of ourselves and capture something special about the human spirit as it meets adversity.


    Which character – as performed by Sunil Malhotra – was your favorite?

    Subhash and Udayan are my favorite characters The portrayal of sibling rivalry, their passions, the intelligence of both characters - add a level of credibility that is hard to find in most novels.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    It could not have been better! I spent some time in India last fall 2014 and was introduced to Indian culture first hand. This book satisfied my craving to return to India - the India I have begun to love and now I want more. I am truly fascinated by the customs, culture and the many stories yet to be told. More please!


    Any additional comments?

    I did not want this story to end and felt the pain of how fate and destiny play a significant part in how life turns out. Circumstances outside of our control can change the course of history in the blink of an eye - and there is no turning back. A touching story that frequently brought tears to my eyes! Outstanding piece of work!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonelle Camp Hill, PA, United States 08-11-14
    Jonelle Camp Hill, PA, United States 08-11-14 Member Since 2008

    A librarian who loves to read, whether in print or in the air

    HELPFUL VOTES
    97
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    97
    70
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    4
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    Story
    "Disappointing"

    Perhaps my expectations were too high. I just didn't find Jhumpa Lahiri's new book very engaging or compelling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet 05-05-14
    Janet 05-05-14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Boring"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    The story failed to grab me, and the performance was lackluster. All in all, it was a snooze.


    Has The Lowland turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No


    Would you be willing to try another one of Sunil Malhotra’s performances?

    Yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr. BATON ROUGE, LA, United States 02-17-14
    Dr. BATON ROUGE, LA, United States 02-17-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    0
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    "Not the best book this year, but up there"
    What made the experience of listening to The Lowland the most enjoyable?

    I was glad I listened to the book, for foreign language books have terms I can't pronounce and it makes a difficult read for me.


    What did you like best about this story?

    the back and forth nature of the story


    What does Sunil Malhotra bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    pronunciation for sure!


    If you could rename The Lowland, what would you call it?

    wouldn't--the name was perfect for the area.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bokworm 02-06-14
    Bokworm 02-06-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    144
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    "Well-Written ...but"

    This was well-written and moved along pretty slowly. I kept waiting for the characters to actually take charge of their lives and they really never did. As an addict to thrillers this was a different type of book for me--and really had trouble being 'patient' as the story evolved.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn Dew Athens, OH United States 12-29-13
    Carolyn Dew Athens, OH United States 12-29-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Good story, narration so-so"
    What aspect of Sunil Malhotra’s performance would you have changed?

    He does fine for the most part, but he should consider not making the female characters sound like meek, bewildered idiots.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doggy Bird Glen Ridge, NJ USA 12-06-13
    Doggy Bird Glen Ridge, NJ USA 12-06-13 Member Since 2015

    Avid reader of classics and fiction, history and well-written genre novels. Music lover and huge audiobook fan.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    616
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    142
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    "Still a better short story writer than novelist"

    I love Jhumpa Lahiri's short fiction and think her collections, UNACCUSTOMED EARTH and INTERPRETER OF MALADIES are among the most enjoyable books I've read in recent years. I really looked forward to the publication of this book but was disappointed. I don't think she is as masterful in the novel as she is in the short story. I felt much of this book struggled to extend itself into a novel when it would have been better as a novella. I didn't find the characterization believable or convincing, and I felt the story dragged on long after I felt it should have been over.

    Still, I read most of the book with gusto and eagerly went back to the story each time I had a chance - but having purchased the kindle version I was just as happy to read the book in kindle form as to listen - I didn't look forward to the narration as much as I usually do. It certainly didn't add to the book, and may even have detracted from it. The narrator reads clearly, but doesn't really bring anything engaging to the audio.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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