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The Lowland

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  90,319 ratings  ·  8,727 reviews
Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portrayal of lives undone and forged anew, The Lowland is a deeply felt novel of family ties that entangle and fray in ways unforeseen and unrevealed, of ties that ineluctably define who we are

From Subhash's earliest memories, at every point, his brother was there. In the suburban streets of Calcutta where they wandered before dusk an
Hardcover, 1st, 340 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Knopf
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Lrfrank55 I don't agree. After returning from her trip, Gauri receives a letter from Bela leaving open the possibility that she can be available to meet her gra…moreI don't agree. After returning from her trip, Gauri receives a letter from Bela leaving open the possibility that she can be available to meet her granddaughter if she so chooses. Committing suicide would have been closing the door to that, even remote, possibility.(less)

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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  90,319 ratings  ·  8,727 reviews

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Jun 28, 2013 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
"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 w
Jan 24, 2013 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
Riku Sayuj
Sep 23, 2013 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
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary, asia, n-america
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
Nov 29, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is said that a book reader gets to live and experience many lives at once. The Lowland is one such book in which the reader would not just live a few lives but also be with them until the end and late into their lives. There is no pre-requirement to relate, understand or support the cause, belief and attitudes of the characters. Jhumpa Lahiri has written this story in such a way, that the reader would inadvertently go to live alongside each of the characters. It does feel, at times, that the ...more
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri

The Lowland is the second novel by American author of Indian origin Jhumpa Lahiri, published by Alfred A. Knopf and Random House in 2013.

Part I: Raised in Tollygunge in Calcutta, brothers Subhash and Udayan are inseparable; they find joy in fixing and listening to radios, learning Morse Code, and looking out for each other at school.

When they leave home for university studies, their ideologies are challenged; Udayan embraces the Naxalite Movement while Subhash is more
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: indian
"Behind the water hyacinth, in the flood water of the Lowland: this was where, If the neighborhood was raided, Udayan had told her he would hide. He told her that there was a section where the growth was particularly dense. He kept the kerosene tin behind the house, to help him over the back wall. Even with the injured hand, he could manage it. He’d practiced it, late at night, a few times."

Hey Jhumpa!

Your name is so rhythmic that I could not resist myself addressing you while writing my thoug
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: india, mother-issues
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
One of the best works of fiction I have ever read. I cried reading it in my office, whisper-screamed “omg” about it on my couch, and raved about it to my friends over FaceTime and Zoom. As a brief plot summary, The Lowland starts out with two brothers living in Calcutta, Subhash, who moves to the United States to attain his doctorate, and Udayan, who joins the Naxalite movement, a rebellion to eliminate inequity and poverty. When Udayan’s involvement in the movement get riskier and more dangerou ...more
Diane S ☔
Jan 23, 2013 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.
Oct 29, 2013 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
Sep 10, 2013 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
Elyse Walters
Jul 25, 2013 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
~✡~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
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.

I want to complete some lists on this site. I thought it would be a go
Julie Ehlers
Feb 18, 2017 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
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
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
Feb 21, 2013 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
Jessica J.
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have had mixed feelings about Lahiri in the past, but I enjoyed this novel whilst being unsure of what Lahiri was trying to do with it. There isn’t a cast of thousands, but it is a family drama starting in India and moving to the US. The focus of the novel is two brothers Subhash and Udayan. They are born in Calcutta fifteen months apart, just after the Second World War. There is a patch of land near where they live in Tollygunge with two ponds and close to the exclusive Tolly club. The brothe ...more
Jan 24, 2013 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
Mar 18, 2013 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
Tanmay Jadhav
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Every time i pick up a Jhumpa Lahiri, i feel like i know what i'm getting into and yet every time i find myself proven wrong.

I can ramble for hours about the story and nuances but to be honest the story isn't what makes the book special

Jhumpa's flowing texts with apparently irrelevant descriptions that confluence perfectly with the scenario or as a buildup is what makes her an irreplaceable part of literary history.

The way she can take you between generations and second person perspectives of a
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
Mar 26, 2014 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
Mal Warwick
Nov 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: trade-fiction
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
I should feel more attached to the characters than I do.

The story is about two Indian brothers born fifteen months apart, the first in 1943 and the second in 1945. Despite their differences in personality, they are close, very close. The story continues more than a decade into the 21st century. They are born in Calcutta. The book concerns sibling relationships, what binds them and what divides them. One brother knows his goals and goes after them. Some might call this self-centered. The other h
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What do you think of Gauri's character? 71 900 Nov 27, 2020 11:07PM  
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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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