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The Lowland Hardcover – Deckle Edge

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (September 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307265749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307265746
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (805 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2013: But for its lyrical, evocative scenes of life in the Calcutta neighborhood in which her heroes grow up, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland could be set anywhere, in almost any time. At the center of this heartbreaking story are two very different brothers. Udayan, the younger by 15 months, is passionate, idealistic and ripe for involvement in the political rebellion in 1960s India (not all that different from his American counterparts of the same era.) Subhash is the “good brother,” the parent-pleaser, who goes off to study and teach in America. But when Udayan, inevitably, ends up a victim of his self-made political violence, Subhash steps in and marries his dead brother’s pregnant wife. His is the proverbial good deed that will never go unpunished; Subhash soon becomes a victim of his own goodness. As always, Lahiri’s prose is lyrical and rich and her story is steeped in history, but in this book (more perhaps than The Namesake, her other novel) the issues raised are more universal and the plot more linear. Competitive siblings, parental love, commitment to belief and family, these are the topics one of our most brilliant writers addresses in what is at once her most accessible, and most profound, book yet. --Sara Nelson

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The clever Mitra brothers are inseparable even though Subhash is serious, cautious, and reliable, while Udayan is brash, impassioned, and rebellious. Both excel in their studies even though, thanks to Udayan, they get into mischief in their quiet, middle-class Calcutta enclave with its two adjacent ponds and water hyacinth-laced lowland, a gorgeously rendered landscape Lahiri (Unaccustomed Earth, 2008) uses to profound effect. In college, Subhash studies chemistry, Udayan physics, but while Subhash prepares to go to America to earn his PhD, Udayan experiences a life-altering political awakening. It’s the late 1960s, a time of international protest, and Udayan joins the Mao-inspired Naxalite movement, which demands justice for the poor. He also secretly marries self-reliant, scholarly Gauri. Subhash’s indoctrination into American life and Rhode Island’s seasons and seashore is bracing and mind-expanding, while Udayan’s descent into the Naxalite underground puts him in grave danger. As shocking complexities, tragedies, and revelations multiply over the years, 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. An absolute triumph. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Pulitzer Prize winner Lahiri’s standing increases with each book, and this is her most compelling yet, hence the 350,000 first printing, national author tour, and major publicity campaign. --Donna Seaman

More About the Author

Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London and raised in Rhode Island. Her debut, internationally-bestselling collection, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the PEN/Hemingway Award, The New Yorker Debut of the Year award, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Addison Metcalf Award, and a nomination for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was translated into twenty-nine languages. Her first novel, The Namesake, was a New York Times Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, and selected as one of the best books of the year by USA Today and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications. Her second collection, Unaccustomed Earth, was a #1 New York Times bestseller; named a best book of the year by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, among others; and the recipient of the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Lahiri was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002 and inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2012.

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Customer Reviews

It's one of the ten best books I have ever read.
Amazon Customer
This episode does not develop the character and does not move the story line.
Srikumar S. Rao
The characters are stunning, the story compelling and beautifully written.
Sue Hovey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

117 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Brendan Moody TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
One of the subjects of Jhumpa Lahiri's second novel is the relationship between historical and personal time, the way single lives can encompass remarkably different places and eras, the persistence of the past. It spans two continents and more than fifty years in the lives of several characters. As such, it's a difficult book to review without at least hinting at certain plot details that readers might like to discover for themselves. So those who want to experience the book with little or no sense of what happens should stop at the end of this paragraph for fear of SPOILERS. For them, and for those who prefer brief reviews, the next couple sentences will have to suffice. THE LOWLAND is an impressive, frequently moving novel, treating with quiet realism events that could easily have degenerated into melodrama. It expresses with new force the journey from mid-twentieth century India to contemporary America that has been a consistent feature of Lahiri's fiction, reminding us that for all the distance between here and there, then and now, these worlds are linked by those who have lived, loved, and suffered in both.

The title refers to a piece of land between two ponds in the neighborhood where Subhash and Udayan grow up, a space that floods every year during monsoon season and slowly drains. Subhash is the elder by fifteen months, but Udayan is more adventurous and more ambitious, the driving force, for example, behind their childhood scheme to sneak into an exclusive country club whose British amenities offer a sharp contrast to the rest of their Calcutta life. As the brothers reach adulthood, Subhash decides to travel to the United States for an education, while Udayan is drawn toward the Naxalites, a militant Communist movement.
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69 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Jill I. Shtulman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
First let me say that Jhumpa Lahiri is my goddess of literature. I read a lot - maybe 75 books a year - and I have rarely fallen under the spell of a book the way I did with Interpreter of Maladies. Her follow-up collection of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth, was also an unqualified 5-star success.

So I was dying to get my hands on her new novel, The Lowland. I read through it eagerly but I closed the last page with mixed feelings.

Let's start with the good: Ms. Lahiri is a natural-born storyteller. In this book, she introduces two brothers, close in age who are poles apart - Udayan, the revolutionary brother who gets caught up in the Mao-inspired Naxalite movement to wipe out poverty in India and his more reserved and dutiful brother, Subhash, who leaves home to pursue an academic and scientific life in Rhode Island. When Udayan inevitably gets swept into a revolutionary movement that turns out badly, Subhash returns home -briefly - and picks up the pieces, including an attempt to heal the emotional scars of his brother's young wife.

As the plot goes on - and it is not my desire to encapsulate the plot or to create spoilers - about 70 years of family history is condensed into a mere 340 pages. Themes play out and then they play out again: the connections that make and break us, the intertwining to people we cannot truly see or know, the way we are defined by the place we call "home", the quiet differences we make in the world. It's all wound up in the history of India and indeed, Ms. Lahiri is at her very finest when she's describing Indian customs or lifestyles as only an insider can.

There's some lovely craftsmanship here, not bells and whistles, but quiet and contemplative -- even shimmering - moments.
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153 of 172 people found the following review helpful By JustMelissa VINE VOICE on September 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As someone who loved The Namesake, perhaps my expectations were too high. I was really hoping The Lowland would be great. Unfortunately, for me, it fell flat.

Brothers Subhash (the responsible serious one) and Udayan (15 months younger, and the rebellious one) grew up together in Calcutta during the politically tumultuous 60's. After college, Subhash heads to the US to further his studies, Udayan stays in Calcutta and becomes involved in a political uprising. When he is killed, leaving behind a pregnant wife, Subhash steps in and fills the role of husband to widowed Gauri and father to his niece-to-be.

The Pros: This is a period in history I knew very little about. Lahiri does a great job of summarizing the political landscape of India in the 1960's. I loved learning how the politics of post-colonial India tied to Maoist China, Castro's Cuba, and Che Guevara. For exmple, I had no idea that Castro destroyed most of Cuba's golf courses when he came into power. Fascinating! It's easy to see how communist ideals could take hold in such a class-divided society.

The Cons: I found almost all of the characters in this novel insufferable. Not only did I not connect with them, few of them connected with each other. There wasn't really anyone to root for. I don't necessarily have to like the characters to appreciate a book, but it helps to understand their motivations. I never could decide if these folks were behaving selflessly, making decisions they thought would be best for their loved-ones, or selfishly trying to maximize their own situation at others' cost. Maybe they didn't really know either. Frustrating. The other issue I had was with the pacing of the book. It was very inconsistent.
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