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The Lowland Hardcover – 8 Sep 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (8 Sept. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408828111
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408828113
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3 x 23.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 33,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Review

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)

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 the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By leekmuncher on 25 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Two brothers, born in Calcutta, live just behind the lowland – two ponds which fill and become one when the rains come. Subhash is studious and obedient, Udayan is a rule-breaker. Their complicit stealing into the private members’ Tolly Club (Udayan’s idea) results in Subhash being beaten. The brothers’ lives take different directions. Subhash takes up a scholarship in Rhode Island. Udayan, politicised and passionate, becomes involved with the Naxalite movement.

Without giving away spoilers, this is a book about absences. Brothers separated, a husband replaced, a mother abandoning a child. Ghosts loom large and the presence of some of the living is ethereal. Lahiri weaves a tale of loss and identity, secrets and guilt. The whole truth and the weight it bears on the characters is only fully uncovered towards the end.

I found the depiction of place powerful – a house, a wasteland, a terrace, a path – each holds far greater meaning when loaded with emotional identification. Small wonder our youngest character rejects roots and becomes transient, working the land, shifting with the seasons, forming and losing groups, but always moving.

However, for me, this book felt distanced and removed. I actually wished for a little dialogue, allowing me to interpret the behaviour and motivations of the key players, rather than reported actions and emotions. The ice creep of disintegrating marriages, withdrawal of affection and a gradual loss of sanity are not easy subjects to address as they lack drama. Yet as truths of life, they do require engagement.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard Bagshaw on 25 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2013; The Lowland screams of literary ambition from its first page. Having written a densely-textured, rather mournful novel, Jhumpa Lahiri eschews drama and spectacle here in favour of complex characterisation and layered meaning. I consequently found her effort easier to admire than enjoy.

We kick off in Calcutta in the mid twentieth century; an elegiac period shortly before decolonisation and the bloody struggle of Partition. Subhash and Udayan are brothers born to a middle-class family who grow up alongside the titular marshland. The novel soon follows Subhash on a scholarship to Rhode Island, distancing itself weirdly from the central events of the novel, which occur early on. It is no spoiler to say that Udayan's embroilment with India's Naxalite communist rebellion does not end well; the resulting trauma is one from which his whole family spend the rest of the novel failing to recover from.

Readers expecting an epic set against the backdrop of post-independence India will thus find themselves disappointed after The Lowland's first hundred pages or so. The rest of the novel's considerable bulk concerns itself with Subhash, Gauri, their daughter Bela, and their unhappy life in the States. Subhash's youth is portrayed as willfully dull; the tumult of the US in the 60's and 70's entirely passes him by. Instead, we are privy to the struggle of a first generation immigrant to find a place in an unfamiliar society. After he is joined by Gauri, it was with growing dismay that I realised The Lowland is a tale of domestic unhappiness; a slow accumulation of resentments and grievances, of fundamentally decent people hurting one another despite their best intentions.

Lahiri's style is measured, and moving at times.
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