As you read this masterful novel, you think you are learning how family secrets haunt the present. Yet at the end of the novel we discover we too have been lied to, and the weight of the past is political as much as familial. An amazing subversion of the family saga.
The Lowland is a fabulous novel, and while there were characters, scenes, and moments that I thought could've been pared down some to allow the work to breathe, these were relatively minor. Overall, The Lowland is wonderfully paced and peopled, and the beauty of the journey is certainly worth the effort.
This book is one of those books that I could get defensive about. It's underrated and taken too literally. Give it a chance, don't compare it to The Namesake (please don't do this!), and focus on the relationships over the events.
It is so, so rich. The main theme for me is connection.
I give this one two stars but only for the quality of the writing which is quiet, understated, eloquent. This is a book about loss. As a lonely foreign student, Subhash is abandoned by the older woman with whom he has established a relationship. Then without realizing it, he is victimized by the selfish actions of his brother who, having married a girl against his parents' wishes, gets himself killed and leaves his young pregnant widow as an outcast in his parents' home. That in turn destroys Subhash's relationship with his parents when he marries his brother's widow to take her away to America. His marriage is doomed from the start and after his wife's abrupt departure, even his relationship with his beloved adopted daughter drifts into nothing. The aging Subhash becomes increasingly lonely, abandoned and directionless.
The book moves slowly, with no discernible object, simply the sad, depressing story of a man who has failed, seemingly through no fault of his own.
I would have given this beautifully written book 4.5 stars, feeling it was marred only by a somewhat weak ending. Subhash and Udayan are two brothers: Udayan is the revolutionary son, Subhash is the dutiful son. When Udayan dies an early death, the ramifications span two continents and 4 generations. Although most of the characters are just everyday people living everyday lives, the author makes us want to care and know more about them.
A beautiful book of a family torn apart and brought together again. Engaging characters and an unique story make this book a real page-turner.
I am amazed by the style of the author. The way the story flows and keeps you connected as if you have witnessed this is beyond imagination. I could not stop reading the latter half uninterrupted as I was glued to my kindle for 4 hours..
Great Great novel! I am still thinking about it as this is so close to be a non-fiction.
Lahiri has demonstrated from past works that she is a capable writer, but she seems strangely detached from her characters in this novel. They never come to life, and this flaw leaves the entire story pervaded with apathy. We can only hope Lahiri will be more inspired with her next project.
Although I enjoyed Lahiri's other books and although this novel was nominated for both the Man Booker and the Bailey's prizes, I found this family saga set from the 1960s to the present day disappointing. Characters seemed type-cast and references to the Naxalite movement were oddly superficial. The novel did contain any insights nor tell the reader much.
Extraordinary writing. Pulitzer prize-winning talent. This could be real-life drama, carried out though in Bengali and America. Near enough to the quality and character depictions of John Steinbeck.
Elegantly written. A complex story about love, loss and regret and what is left behind when one leaves the country and culture of one's birth.
This is a wonderful book, although it's hard to put your finger on why it is so good. While reading it I felt I was fully inhabiting the world the characters were living in. It's the first book of Lahiri's that I have read and I wasn't expecting much given its reviews, most of which seemed to say her other books were better. The moral may be ignore reviews. But then you'd have to ignore me when I say it's worth reading.
Whatever. Make up your own mind.
Jhumpa Lahiri's writing appears on each page with spacious ease and unusual candor. The story in The Lowland is spread out over several decades in the lives of the four main characters.
The joy in reading this book can be felt threw the authors attention to the rich details of every day life that soon reveal emotional insights into each characters response to a shared turning point, a trauma.
I absolutely loved it. I've read all of Lahiri's books and this may be my favorite. An extraordinary story detailed in her, as always, beautiful prose.
grew up in Calcutta and lived the experiences Lahiri has described in her novel. She has been true to the events and her characters portray accurately the young men and women of the time. As is always the case with Lahiri this book too is somewhat woman-centric and Gauri is more or less the main character. She is a bundle of contradictions and her relationship with Bela, her daughter, complex. Subhash's comment, "My mother was right. You don't deserve to be a parent. The privilege was wasted on you." is justified. Lahiri's observations on life through the eyes of her characters are very astute. Biljoli feels the shame of surviving one child and losing another who still lives. This is such a poignant observation; and the book is full of such statements. A very interesting read indeed.
I read Interpretation of Maladies and really enjoyed it. This one did not do it for me.
Although a bit slow at times I appreciated Lahiri's ability to draw complex and vivid characters. I also enjoyed the cross cultural backdrop that was present both physically and in the way the characters interacted between themselves and their environments.
For most of the readers who are not conversant with seminal political events in India during the time period referenced in the book, this book can be read as a 'la Dr. Zhivago'. The disruptive times that families had to live thru and reconcile the losses of members has been very well captured. I felt the choice of words were more in tune with the Indian /commonwealth reading audience(sultry instead of humid etc). The' Gauri' character is certainaly a puzzle to understand and at the end of the read, I felt the author was trying torush thru and bring a sane closure to the character to do some 'justice' to the characters intransigencies.
As always a serious and a dense read. Thank you, Jhumpa, for articulating the memories some of us have lived through!
One of the best books I've read ever. Not only was I entertained but I also learned about India in the sixties. Beautifully written, read it, I will guarantee you won't be disappointed. I didn't want it to end.
I am used to reading mystery / detective books where there is a very clear ending: the bad guy gets caught. As I was reading this book I couldn't figure out what the point was and where it was going so didn't enjoy it as much as I could have. I always like to learn something from everything I read and I did learn a bit about unrest in India in the 60s and 70s.
I used to drink at a bar in Cleveland called "The Lowland." Man, I could tell you some stories. This, unfortunately, is not about that bar (R.I.P. Skinny). Indian-American writer Jhumpa Lahiri's fourth book and second novel somehow won the Pulitzer Prize. She's one of those writers who is good, but dull, yet has made good with the critical establishment (NYT, New Yorker, NPR, etc.). I don't dislike her so much as not get why she's so popular/acclaimed. I enjoy fiction about India (Rushdie, Meta, Mistry) and initially I thought this was going to be about the politics of the 60s and 70s, but then it moves to America and becomes far less interesting. File under "shrug."
Jhumpa Lahiri is probably my favorite author of the past 5 years. I wish she would write faster and more. Her novels, and her short stories are so real, so well told, so amazing. I always feel I know the characters - and I end up missing them. The Lowland is once again a well told story full of family, love, traditions and much info about India of the 60's and 70's.