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The Lowland

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  66,376 Ratings  ·  7,011 Reviews
Two brothers bound by tragedy; a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past; a country torn by revolution. A powerful new novel--set in both India and America--that explores the price of idealism and a love that can last long past death.

Growing up in Calcutta, born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the ot
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Hardcover, 340 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Knopf
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Tamie
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Isabella Campanile Totally agree with the only difference that it was crowded with minute descriptions of the surrounding. The characters are flat and boring

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Elaine
Jun 28, 2013 Elaine rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
Very close to a 3. Downgraded to a 2 because Lahiri can do SO much better.

This book was just too chilly for me. Years, decades, generations pass, but people don't grow, change or express themselves- they just keep bitterness, love, sadness, guilt equally bottled up, and indulge in quiet renunciation (Subhash) or witchy selfishness (Gauri). (I've never seen any of the stereotypically bleak Scandinavian films (Bergman et al.) but I imagine that they would feel like this book does).

Lahiri is undoub
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Samadrita
"It was as if Udayan were there, speaking to him, teasing him. He felt their loyalty to one another, their affection, stretched halfway across the world. Stretched perhaps to the breaking point by all that now stood between them, but at the same time refusing to break."

You don't have to be in a certain place, at a certain time to be able to catch the faint thrum of the lifeblood coursing through the pages of this book, live the heartbreak of its characters, to develop a sense of solidarity wit
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Cameron
Jan 24, 2013 Cameron rated it it was amazing
Wow. Jhumpa Lahiri's THE LOWLAND is a big novel with the power of her best short stories.

It follows the life of Subhash Mitra as he grows up in Calcutta and then moves to America--typical fare for Lahiri, but with much broader scope and even cleaner, crisper writing than the Pulitzer Prize winner has shown in the past.

With a sweeping, addictive plot, THE LOWLAND still peels naked the identities brother, lover, father, and mother, often with just a small, simple gesture. It challenges the politi
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Riku Sayuj
Sep 23, 2013 Riku Sayuj rated it really liked it

Twilight’s Children

He had found the letter under his brother’s bed.

He had not minded the dust that lit up the damp light of the room. He had read it immediately. But now that he was back in his room, he took it out again, wanting to read it one more time, as always.

He remembered all the letters he used to receive from India and of how he could hear his Udayan’s childhood voice as he read it, even when the voice was long changed. In this letter he could not.

This time he picked up from the third
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Sofia
Jul 20, 2013 Sofia rated it really liked it
Shelves: asia, n-america, literary
I've been postponing writing a review of this book because I'm not sure what I can say that hasn't been already said by others in a more eloquent fashion. So I'll record here my lingering reaction, the feeling that has stayed with me after two months:
This book is haunting and haunted. A pair of linked tragedies disrupt forever the lives of three generations. Like in The Infatuations, by Javier Marias, several characters are unable to let go, though the response in Marias's characters is more rat
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Cheryl
Two brothers, born in India before partition, come of political age in the 1960s. One brother becomes politically active, the other doesn’t, and their lives unfold in completely disparate ways. Tragedy is inevitable, and families struggle to readjust and heal. Some adjust better than others.

The word ‘Potentially’ should have preceded the publisher’s blurb of “Suspenseful, sweeping, piercingly intimate”, because the opportunities to create that kind of story were squandered. There was a rich subs
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Diane S ☔
Jan 23, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
Two brothers, born fifteen months apart in Calcutta, India, inseparable until the 1960's when they are both in their mid twenties and their interests begin to diverge. Udayar becomes a follower of Mao's revolutionary politics and joins the Naxalite movement. Which I had to look up on the all knowing wiki. Subhash goes to America to continue his studies.

As I was reading this I felt as if the first half was like an outline, just the bare bones of the characters personalities were being revealed.
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Mary
Jun 03, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2016, india
Not all women should be mothers. Not all mothers love their children. This should be written about more. Also, not everyone gets wiser as they get older and “time heals all wounds” is bullshit.

These are some of the themes of The Lowland.

What I’ve noticed about both Lahiri novels I’ve read is that she is a master at writing about complete down-to-the-bone aloneness. There’s that (clichéd) lonely-disorientated immigrant experience that I relate to, but she also takes it further to a place that’s
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Maanasa
Sep 10, 2013 Maanasa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jhumpa Lahiri is gifted with the ability to write beautifully. You read some books for the plot, and others for the sheer love of language. While "The Lowland" satisfied me plot-wise, it was Jhumpa Lahiri's language that blew me away once again. Something I really appreciated about the book was Jhumpa Lahiri's objective take on the political movement that forms the impetus for every plot line in the book. Lahiri stays away from the tempting trap of making a political point, and focuses instead o ...more
Leila
Oct 29, 2013 Leila rated it it was ok
Like her other books, this is beautifully written. Unfortunately, I really didn't like any of the characters, and the narrative was so bland and impersonal this might've easily been a non-fiction history of the factions of Indian politics in the last quarter of the 20th century. The story (if it can be called that) is ambiguous, the characters do not relate to each other in ways I recognize or that seem authentic- very unnatural, stilted and hard to believe. I guess what was most puzzling here f ...more
~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~
2.5 stars

Jumpa Lahiri has failed me. I remember loving The Namesake. I read an excerpt of it in The New Yorker and couldn't wait to read the complete novel. But The Lowland, while layered and complex, requires way too much STUDY. This is not an enjoyable book. I found myself bored and restless time and time again. Even at 50 percent in, I was muddling in murky waters.

This book is about the history of India, lots of politics, upheaval, warring parties, etc. I don't adore political history anyway
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Antonomasia
Aug 21, 2013 Antonomasia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: Booker longlist
The political history was interesting - 1960s student radicals in India - but most of The Lowland, which takes place in subsequent decades, is just another overly serious modern American family saga (immigrant subtype).

The unquestioned contrast in personalities of the two central brothers has a mythological quality but Lahiri's writing never achieves the grandeur befitting that. Sensible Subhash would, I'm sure, make an excellent, nice and reliable work colleague but written about as he was her
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Cheryl
A melancholic tale narrated with restraint and distance. Seeing how the tone was set in the beginning, I didn't expect to be drawn in to the story, wasn't sure what to expect.

But call her (Lahiri) the plot whisperer.

Here, time will fascinate you, moving abruptly, standing still, spanning generations and decades--yet still managing to stay organic to the plot. The plot and story have so many intricacies that it is time which directs it all.

Picture two young boys growing up in the 1960s amid the
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Elyse
Jul 25, 2013 Elyse rated it really liked it
"Interpreter of Maladies" (Pulitzer winner), "Unaccustomed Earth", and novel
"The Namesake" we're each so terrific, ... it would be hard for me to choose which of the three I liked better: yet if I 'had' to choose it would be "Unaccustomed Earth" as first favorite.
Each of the books were about relationships - multiple challenges-
and struggles as immigrant families adjust to American Cultural and social norms. Always insightful.... and ALWAYS filled with emotional attachment.
And.. In her two book
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Jill
Feb 21, 2013 Jill rated it liked it
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 storytel
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Sue
Jan 24, 2013 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Calcutta in the 1960s two brothers come of age amid a confusing cluster of economic, social, religious, and political changes that were to disrupt India for years. Subhash and his younger brother Udayan were inseparable throughout their youth. With strict parents and expectations for their lives, they began to bridle as they approached college age. Both were bright boys, both with plans for their futures but here their lives begin to separate and their lives and family to splinter.

Subhash is
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Jessica
Jan 23, 2013 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Jhumpa Lahiri is, hands-down, my favorite writer. The Namesake is part of the reason why I chose to pursue a career in books, and it was very nearly the subject of my master's thesis. I'm not much of a short story reader, but Unaccustomed Earth made me wish I could be a writer.

I just love the way that she examines human nature. Sometimes her themes can be a little repetitive, but her insights are so sharp. I love how her work tends to emphasizes the smaller moments of her characters' lives -- T
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Julie Ehlers
Feb 18, 2017 Julie Ehlers rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
I see Jhumpa Lahiri as kind of an old-fashioned novelist in the sense that she genuinely cares about things like character development, setting, and storytelling. She's not trying to impress you with how clever she is; she's not setting up some "twist" that's going to make you rethink everything that came before it. She's all about providing an immersive experience that earns all of its emotional high points and epiphanies. This is all to the good, in my opinion. I wish there were more writers o ...more
Trish
I am hoping to ‘fillet a stone’ in this review, and separate Lahiri’s writing from her story in this, her latest novel. Lahiri has lavish gifts when it comes to writing. Although Interpreter of Maladies won so many awards and gave Lahiri encouragement perhaps, I preferred another book of linked stories, Unaccustomed Earth, for its deep insights, faultless language, and for peeling the veil from a culture I can never hope to know intimately.

The writing in this, her latest novel, was, I thought, w
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Teresa
Mar 26, 2014 Teresa rated it liked it
As there are two brothers of opposite temperaments in this book, perhaps it is appropriate that I am of two minds about the book. It's above all elegantly written, yet too much is explained, especially in the last three chapters. So, yes, it could've ended three chapters sooner than it did, yet I appreciated why she included them. I questioned the sudden use of no names in the penultimate one, as that seemed to serve no purpose, though its sudden shift to present tense was fine. At times there i ...more
Igrowastreesgrow
A bittersweet love story with the main focus being the bitterness of loss expressed over a life time and the consequences. I enjoyed the book overall but I was very disappointed in the ending. I feel that the ending fell very short of what it could have been. Anyways, this was a fantastic read with a lot of depth and emotion.

I hope to read more from this author in the future.

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I want to complete some lists on this site. I thought it would be a go
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Ming
Mar 18, 2013 Ming rated it it was amazing
I won't recount the storyline as it's amply available.

Very satisfying read. A must-read! After finishing this book (an ARC from an angel and subsequently paid forward), I had to take a day or so off from reading anything else in order to continue to allow the afterglow of The Lowland to linger.

I found Lahiri's writing to be so precise and her tone so serene. And yet it's taut--that skin on the drum secured very tightly and thus enabling the biggest impact/resistance. The tension rests just bene
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Mal Warwick
Nov 29, 2013 Mal Warwick rated it it was amazing
Does it sometime seem to you as though Indian novelists are muscling into the ranks of top English-language writers, making their way onto the best-seller lists and snapping up a disproportionate share of the literary awards? No? Think of Anita Desai, Arundhati Roy, Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Chanda, Kiran Desai, Aravind Adiga, and don’t forget Salman Rushdie. And that’s just those who come to mind without effort.

Within this pantheon of literary overachievers, the Indian-American writer Jhumpa Lahiri
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Cynthia
Aug 18, 2013 Cynthia rated it really liked it
Devotion

“The Lowland” starts out slowly. For the first 30 pages or so it’s about politics and living conditions in Calcutta in the late ‘60’s. Stay with it though because if politics don’t grab you Lahiri’s subsequent story will. Udayan and his older brother Subhash have been raised to honor their parents and observe the old customs but Udayan turns to radical politics because of the injustice and poverty he sees around him. Both boys have finished their university degrees and they’ve always bee
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Shaunak Bhattacharya
Oct 01, 2013 Shaunak Bhattacharya rated it it was amazing
Very rarely after rating a book on Goodreads i have clicked "write a review"....very often....this is one such time....

The first line onwards this book was just a magic recreated with a delightful and mesmerising penmanship by Jhumpa Lahiri.... her previous books were good or even brilliant....but the way her storytelling has matured is simply a treat to the eyes and to the mind....

there is no relief in the storyline....it strangles you with one tragedy after the other which reminds you of the w
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Erwin
Aug 16, 2013 Erwin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Erwin by: Cheryl
I loved this book. A very sad story, wonderfully told. A story about the past being part of the present, always and wherever you go. No escape possible. A truly remarkable novel. Highly recommended.
Susan
Jun 08, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Sometimes an author can tell the whole story of her characters lives without using one word too many, captivating her readers, and submerging them in a fictional yet historically and geographically accurate world, as events which will forever shape her subjects lives unfold.
This author has seamlessly achieved this....telling the story of two Indian Brothers who are close, but very different.
One Brother wants to change the world in which he lives, the other seeks to make the most of his opportuni
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Sumit Singla
Sep 25, 2013 Sumit Singla rated it it was amazing
The first book I read from Ms. Lahiri was 'The Namesake' and I failed to understand all the hype around it. Yes, the author is brilliant at describing emotions and fleshing out her characters. But, in that particular novel, I felt she didn't do enough with the story.

However, in this book she has certainly moved on. It's a poignant story, narrated with characteristic command over drawing abstract meaning from the mundane. The story features two brothers, Subhash and Udayan Mitra, born just over a
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Marialyce
Sep 30, 2013 Marialyce rated it it was ok
Shelves: october-2013
I have liked every other book Ms Lahari has written, but this one just left me cold. I think she writes prose beautifully however, in this novel her wonderul gift did not make up for the lack of warmth or the lack of developing characters that had some heart and warmth. The characters were all wooden as if placed upon a chessboard and moved around without really knowing or even being able to love one another.

I must admit, I found Gauri, the wife of the brothers to be the coldest of the character
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☮Karen
Jun 02, 2015 ☮Karen rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2015
My opinion of this book is unlike most of my friends' opinions, I know. The author writes poetically, I will give her that; but she also writes as if a slow moving freight train is crossing the country and may or may not derail at any moment. There was just a slight sense that something awful might happen, or something to add to the tragedy that happened in India, but mostly I felt that probably nothing at all would happen. Very descriptive paragraphs on Calcutta's political environment during t ...more
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Nilanjana Sudeshna "Jhumpa" Lahiri was born in London and brought up in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. Brought up in America by a mother who wanted to raise her children to be Indian, she learned about her Bengali heritage from an early age.

Lahiri graduated from South Kingstown High School and later received her B.A. in English literature from Barnard College in 1989. She then received multiple d
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“Isolation offered its own form of companionship: the reliable silence of her rooms, the steadfast tranquility of the evenings. The promise that she would find things where she put them, that there would be no interruption, no surprise. It greeted her at the end of each day and lay still with her at night.” 123 likes
“Isolation offered its own form of companionship” 61 likes
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