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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The West is the Best?
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...
Published 10 months ago by MisterHobgoblin

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly average...
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...
Published 5 months ago by FictionFan


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "People are reacting. Naxalbari is an inspiration. It's an impetus for change.", 24 Oct 2013
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Lowland (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.

Thematically, the novel considers all aspects of what constitutes a family, what responsibilities of family life can (or should) supersede one's personal desires, and how, if at all, love can flourish under circumstances in which two people decide to adhere to a set of traditions and responsibilities not necessarily of their own choice. "You can't go home again," physically or emotionally, the novel seems to say, at the same time that it also expands on the idea that we are who we are and must accept that. The characters' interactions, responsibilities, and the consequences are particularly fraught as the novel moves through nearly fifty years of personal and social change within one family through several generations, the novel focusing on the academic Subhash and his family in the United States for most of the novel.

Lahiri's prose is often elegant, and her descriptions of settings are perfect for the uses she makes of them. Rhode Island, along the coast, is true-to-life in its damp response to changing seasons and its glorious flourishing of life in the estuaries and marshes. The novel is somewhat less successful in its depictions of some characters, especially those of the mothers, both the mother of Subhash and Udayan and of the mother of Bela, whose career decision appears to be cruel. Because she is not fully developed, her actions are, unfortunately, less understandable to the reader than they might have been. The author does a remarkable job of straddling the line between realism and melodrama on an almost epic scale, however, a saving grace which keeps the reader actively involved and enthusiastic as Subhash and his family develop over three generations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Journey of Sadness and Passion, 17 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The Lowland (Kindle Edition)
A beautifully crafted story that creates sympathy and antipathy towards all the characters throughout. The life stories offer a glimpse into all our strengths and fallibility.

I loved the pictures of India from independence to today and the way the portrait of immigration into a new culture unfolds with the past always looming.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting., 7 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The Lowland (Kindle Edition)
Beautiful story telling. A haunting and epic tale about the lasting impact the actions and death of one person has on his family, and the next generation. It took me a little while to get into the book, but at some point, I realised that I couldn't put the book down. I loved it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps a prize winner?, 27 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The Lowland (Kindle Edition)
Another great read from the rich library that holds Anglo-Indian literature.
It was probably necessary to include quite a lot of recent Indian political history as background to the book,as the main characters are immersed in the tumult of those times. For this reader tho' there was rather too many figures from various political groups around the edges of the story. They are peripheral characters,and the reader does not engage with any of them.
It is in describing the relationship between the two brothers however,that Lahiri's story telling gifts shine out. Two very different young men,with differing political views,and with deep bonds of affection between them which are never broken,grow up to lead lives which pull them apart physically but never emotionally.
Indian family life and the expectations of parents vis a vis their children feature strongly,and cause the brothers a lot of pain.
The Lowland has deservedly been shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2013,and I can really recommend it.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So Much Humanity, 1 Oct 2013
By 
Sharon "Sharon Bakar" (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Lowland (Kindle Edition)
There's so much humanity in Lahiri's writing. I could not put this down - cared deeply for the characters, especially Subhash, who seems to be punished in an incredibly cruel way for his kindness towards Gauri, his brother's wife. It's only towards the end of the novel that the reader learns to forgive her because we know the awful burden that she has carried. The settings - both Calcutta and Rhode Island were beautifully recreated.

The novel is certainly not out of place on the Booker shortlist, but the one criticism I have is the long, stringy structure that sees the book span 4 generations with huge time leaps between chapters. At times the novel dragged it's feet and some scenes (e.g. the final one) seemed unnecessary. I prefer the tightness of Lahiri's short stories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 8 July 2014
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This review is from: The Lowland (Kindle Edition)
Excellent book, I loved it, having been to India, it brought back many memories.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very worthwhile read, 7 July 2014
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This review is from: The Lowland (Kindle Edition)
I love books about India and was recently in Kolkata so this book had geographical elements that were familiar to me and filled in some details of the recent history of the area. It is well-written and enjoyable.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read!, 6 July 2014
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This review is from: The Lowland (Kindle Edition)
An interesting and
Enthralling story, beautiful characterization, stunning settings.
Wonderfully written to empathize with the characters
Would definitely recommend this book!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read, 5 July 2014
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This review is from: The Lowland (Kindle Edition)
I don't know what else to say. The novel follows the lives of two brothers, their parents, the woman they marry and her daughter. All the characters are flawed with the exception of Subhash whose fault is to try to make a perfect life for others.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So amazingly sad, 28 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Lowland (Kindle Edition)
Complex and colourful, with characters who tear at the heart strings but are never perfect. A book for our time when politics and terrorism do not have simple answers, or prove easy to understand.
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The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
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