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
"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)
Avid reader and foodie. I read mostly fiction but thanks to my awesome book club I am branching out and finding some great books!
Maybe because I'm such a fan of her other work, I am more critical, but I thought this book was a bust.
I thought the characters were really dull and not fleshed out well. I certainly didn't sympathize with them, nor did I care what happened to them. I didn't get a good sense of their motivation for the choices they made- and overall it was just dull. That's the best I can say.
If you want to read Lahiri, I suggest starting with something else- if I had read this first, I wouldn't have gone back for any more.
Sure- The Namesake is a masterpiece and 10x better.
Yes, I thought he did a nice job.
There was a moment where a character goes through a big shift (sorry I don't want to write out a big spoiler, but it's about 3/4 way through and you'll know it when you hear it), and it was just so out of left field and silly, all I could do was roll my eyes. Usually Jhumpa Lahiri's characters are so complex, and through her writing you really understand them- good and bad. But here- it was like reading about a family of paper dolls. Flat and dimension-less.
I usually don't think too hard about the narration. I think the best narration should recede into the background and allow you to enjoy the story. But Sunil Malhotra had an irritatingly morose delivery at all times. This is not the world's most cheerful book, but he read the entire thing as if he were speaking at a funeral, even at the book's happy moments. He also paused at weird times in the text. I found myself thinking more about the narration than about the book itself. Not a good experience.
This is a lovely and intense book about (among other things) the consequences of our actions for those we love . . . the two brothers at the center of the book have profound effects on each others' lives, and, rippling outward, on the lives of their parents, spouses, children. Jhumpa Lahiri does a beautiful job of drawing us into the relationship between the brothers and then into the lives of their families.
The narrator is generally excellent; I gave him four stars rather than five because I felt his women sounded a little insipid, but this is a quibble. I will keep an eye out for more of his narration; it was moving without being overbearing.
Tell us about yourself!I am an avid reader but enjoy listening while waking to work, ironing, doing dishes, etc. Listening to novels is an entirely different experience than reading; a well narrated story is a cross between drama and written fiction. Listening to books on Audible has been a wonderful experience.
Distinctions between different sub- ontinent accents (police, grandparents, professors) which make the listen richer.
From my perspective, this is a brilliant novel/listen. The writing is lyrical, beautiful and easy to follow. The themes she deals with below the surface of the story are powerful and deal with loss, family bonds, good and bad, and the contemporary issues of bridging of cultures: east and west, young and old. Sunil Malhotra renders a spectacular, well-paced, and nuanced reading with smooth dialect transitiosns throughout. This book kept me thinking well after I was done with it--always a good sign.
I think Lahiri is a spectacular short story writer, but I've been disappointed by her novels, this one most of all. I won't try another novel from her.
A short story collection, perhaps.
The narrator had a tough task--bringing to life a book with so little action and vigor. The book's greatest lack was dialogue: There was almost none of it, and when it did appear, it was trite and uninteresting. Unfortunately, even when he did get some dialogue to read, he tended to drone.
Rohinton Mistry's "A Fine Balance" is one of the finest books I've ever read--a story of India, told through characters that are beautifully rendered and heartbreaking. Lahiri's book needed to follow that lead: The history needed to matter because the characters mattered, and vice versa. In this book, the history felt leaden and burdensome. The story was dull and flabby and predictable; so was the language. And the characters were stereotypes, always doing something you could foresee 100 pages before.
I used this book to help me fall asleep at night. It was that boring.
I wouldn't recommend this book. I usually love her writing. The characters in this book were not particularly interesting. The characters all seemed one dimensional, never developed or surprising in any way. The story was a multi-generational study of an Indian family in Calcutta and the United States. It includes discussion of political unrest in India and how it affects the family.
The ending was the most interesting part of the book.
The performance was ok.
One of my favorite authors but not one of my favorite books.
The language is overwhelming. It is like poetry. That, along with an excellent narrator made this book unforgettable and immensely pleasurable to read. It had a good story, gave good depth to the characters providing their many perspectives and left you constantly considering their motives and desires.
The main character had infinite capacity for caring for his child and redefined the word father for me. Still , he was credible while constantly striving to do the right thing.
He did all of the different voices well, men, women and especially children! He had excellent material to work with but made the reading seamless. The wonderful language and descriptions in the book are particularly poignant when read by this excellent narrator. I usually listen at a speed of 1.25 but this book I set at 1 so I could really savor the reading.
The ending, gives us hope as a main character lets go of a lifetime of resentment, demonstrating the largeness of human nature and it's capability for forgiveness.
This was the best book I have read in many years. It is a saga with great characters, again demonstrating the immigrant experience, but more importantly showing the wonderful side of human behavior. The language is a delight to listen to, describing both physical characteristics as well as human. Jumpa Lahiri is one of the truly great writers of our time. This is a book to be savored.
I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?
Two brothers born 15 months apart, inseparable boys growing up in Naxalbari, a half submerged swamp besotted with refuse and water hyacinths. The beauty and the wasteland feel of the swampy area echos the essence and the life choices of the two brothers. One brother is involved in the underground of the Naxalite movement of West Bengal in the late 1960s. The other brother is headed off to teach college in Rhode Island.
The two brothers share their lives in a unique fashion, more than either expected.
This author has a creative voice and although not exactly the happy ending feel good book so many prefer, overall the book held my interest and was worthwhile.
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.
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.
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!
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!
A librarian who loves to read, whether in print or in the air
Perhaps my expectations were too high. I just didn't find Jhumpa Lahiri's new book very engaging or compelling.
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