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The Lowland Paperback – 17 Jun 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 415 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; Reprint edition (17 Jun. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307278263
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307278265
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.2 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London of Bengali parents, and grew up in Rhode Island, USA. Her stories have appeared in many American journals and her first collection, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize 2000 for Fiction, the New Yorker Prize for Best First Book, the PEN/Hemingway Award and was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Award. Her novel, The Namesake, was published in 2003 and is now a major motion picture from the director of Monsoon Wedding. Unaccustomed Earth, her latest collection of stories, won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and was a New York Times Number One bestseller. Jhumpa Lahiri lives in New York with her husband and two children.

(Photo credit: Elena Seibert)

Product Description


A domestic epic that manages to combine the personal and intimate with the political and the public superbly well -- Harry Ritchie Daily Mail Sublimely brilliant Esther Freud She has an extraordinary power of empathy for her characters and a steady hand for unspooling the knotted threads of their individual motives and histories Sunday Times An author, at the height of her artistry, spins the globe and comes full circle Vogue Profound . real and convincing. The characters don't act like people in a novel: they are much closer to real life in their responses, their heartfelt cries of pain -- Eileen Battersby Irish Times A sweeping, ambitious story... There is no doubt that The Lowland confirms Lahiri as a writer of formidable powers and a great depth of feeling Observer She observes the small moments of adapting to a new country particularly beautifully. Cool, measured and beguiling writing The Times Poignant story and epic sweep Tatler Elegant and thoughtful Literary Review Jhumpa Lahiri is an elegant stylist, effortlessly placing the perfect words in the perfect order time and again so we're transported seamlessly into another place ... Every family story is somehow a war story; Lahiri has a talent for coolly illustrating this truth Vanity Fair Such is the strength, individuality and vividness of Lahiri's characters, that it's a loss when their voices finally fall silent -- Rachel Hore Independent on Sunday Hypnotic ... An excellent example of the art of fiction -- Bharat Tandon Daily Telegraph [An] immaculately constructed and a model of lucidity, well deserving of its place on the Man Booker shortlist Mail on Sunday A domestic epic that superbly combines the personal and intimate with the political and public Irish Mail on Sunday Moving, surprising and utterly compelling ... It's as beautiful as anything you will ever read - it touches your soul ... We're not surprised that Lahiri's work has made the Man Booker shortlist - it certainly gets our vote here Stylist Thrillingly nuanced ... Lahiri's most ambitious work to date, brimming with pain and love and all of life's profound beauty O, The Oprah Magazine Epic in sweep, especially when combined with the laden, potent themes, the intertwining of politics and sexuality, the cauterizing of emotional wounds and grievances, and the repetition of places and personalities ... Ms Lahiri's prose hums along as efficiently as a well-tuned engine, showing us the melancholy beauty of coastal New England; the surreal perceptions of an immigrant ... And the tension between generations -- Siddhartha Deb International Herald Tribune An important novel for Lahiri to have written -- Robert McCrum Observer This is the sort of domestic epic that manages to combine the personal and intimate with the political and public superbly well -- Harry Ritchie Daily Mail Jhumpa Lahiri is intelligent, astute, informed and genuine . The Lowland is real. Its emotional intelligence is extraordinarily persuasive, as is the calm, quietly intense Lahiri -- Eileen Battersby Irish Times Lahiri writes with great emotional precision -- Anjali Joseph The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Two brothers bound by tragedy; a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past; a country torn by revolution: the most powerful and ambitious novel yet from the Pulitzer Prize-winning, multi-million copy bestselling author of The Namesake and Unaccustomed Earth

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By countrygirl on 15 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read to almost page 200 before I started to enjoy this highly rated novel. The early scenes of life in Calcutta were flat and dull and overloaded with the sort of detail that clutters rather than defines. The brothers were neither very engaging and as their lives diverged it was hard to care much what happened to either of them.
The political backdrop was equally flat. It informed as a history book might but didn't paint a vivid picture of what was happening at this time as communists tried to initiate a revolution.
When Subhash moves to the US things were equally flat and dreary but I plodded on dutifully reading of his miserable marriage and lonely life.
I started to enjoy the book when I realised the subtlety of the ending - the obvious stuff was there in spades- like past deeds inform the present and shape the future, and violence is never justified and new beginnings can only be made after a painful encounter with the reality of the past. But there was also something more subtle and touching in the relationships between the grim survivors as they reach a level of understanding despite the pain. Something new was built on the wreck of the past.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 Feb. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Subhash and Udayan are brothers, growing up together in post-independence Calcutta. Subhash is conventional and studious, fully intending to follow the path expected for him by his parents. Udayan is more adventurous and becomes politicised after the brutal suppression of a communist uprising in the small village of Naxalbari. Udayan soon becomes a member of the Naxalites, an offshoot of the Communist Party, which believes in direct action - i.e. terrorism - to achieve its ends. Subhash meantime takes up an opportunity to go to the States to continue his studies in oceanography.

This is where Lahiri makes her first strange choice. Instead of remaining in Calcutta with the charismatic and interesting Udayan, learning more about the Naxalites and the political situation, we are whisked off with the frankly dull-to-the-point-of-catatonia Subhash, and given detailed accounts of the considerably less exciting environment of the campus of a University in Rhode Island, where the most thrilling thing that happens is that Subhash decides not to get involved in Vietnam protests. From there on, we only learn what is happening in India through the occasional letter that Udayan sends, until an incident occurs that makes Subhash return briefly - but only long enough to marry, when he and his new wife return to Rhode Island. The bulk of the remainder of the book is taken up with detailed minutiae about the extremely dull and miserable lives led by Subhash, Gauri and their daughter, Bela. Subhash and Gauri both spend their lives studying and then teaching in Universities so we rarely get off campus and, after an entertaining start, Bela turns into as dull and misery-laden a character as her parents.
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51 of 57 people found the following review helpful By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Sept. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Lowland is a flat area of marshland next to the settlement of Tollygunge in Calcutta. Tollygunge houses a golf course and, even after independence, is well patrolled to keep the locals out. This symbol of colonial power is the catalyst to inspire brothers Udayan and Subhash to join the dangerous world of Indian-Maoist Marxism.

But, as time passes, the brothers mature. Subhash takes up a study scholarship at a university in Rhode Island whilst Udayan stays loyal to the cause. This parting of the ways is deeply symbolic of the crossroads at which India found istelf in the 1960s and 1970s - whether to look to the east or the west for its politics and its economy. For a long while, it was not clear which would prevail, even as India seemed to choose the west there were regrets and hints of reconsidering. There were turbulent times in which leaders were assassinated whilst the economy stagnated. The Lowland offers this drama in an exquisite and extended metaphor. Just as in Midnight's Children, we see wrong choices being made and opportunities lost. We see the grind and monotony of following the respectable path in Rhode Island whilst the history of India is out of sight and out of mind.

What maked The Lowland special, though, is the perfect writing that allows characters to feel real and complex; situations to feel three dimensional. Subhash and, particularly, Gauri have nuanced shades of light and dark. And there is no temptation to match morality to outcomes; both characters are well intentioned, thoughtful people but they end up hurting one another and hurting others without effort. They are caught in a web of their own making and the more they struggle to free themselves, the more ensnared they become.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Oct. 2013
Format: Hardcover
In this well-developed novel of family relationships, which is also a love story and a story of betrayal on several levels, author Jhumpa Lahiri introduces four generations of one family whose history begins in Tollygunge, outside of Calcutta, and then moves off in many different directions before settling finally in Rhode Island. Traveling back and forth in time, with points of view shifting among several different but interrelated characters, the novel creates an impressionistic picture of events which begin in 1967 with a political uprising in India, the family effects of which continue into the present. Two brothers, only fifteen months apart in age, become linchpins of the novel. Subhash, the older, more cautious brother, is far more apt to watch any action, even as a child, than his brother Udayan, the more adventuresome brother, who is always participating in the action and testing limits.

When, in 1967, an uprising in Naxalbari, four hundred miles from Calcutta, presages the beginning of a larger revolution of peasants against wealthy landowners, Udayan sees this as an impetus for wider change as a member of a Soviet-style Marxist organization, and after that, as a member of the Naxalites. While Subhash is studying out of town, Udayan is painting slogans and stimulating revolution, and when he meets Gauri, a philosopher who seems to share his point of view, he suddenly marries her, without seeking permission from his family and foregoing all the usual traditions. When Subhash soon after that receives a telegram to return home to Tollygunge, however, he knows that some family disaster has occurred. Ultimately, he returns to his PhD program in Rhode Island, but this time he is joined by his new bride, pregnant with a child which is not his. The father is his brother, Udayan.
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