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The Lowland
By Jhumpa Lahiri
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The Lowland

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The Lowland
By Jhumpa Lahiri
Random House Large Print, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-8041-2111-8
Genre: Fiction

Reviewed by Angela Evans - September 12, 2013

The Lowland is a grand, multinational, and multi-generational novel that takes the reader from India to the United States and back again. This book was written by Jhumpa Lahiri, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who also penned The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies, both of which are available in large print.

In this sweeping saga, Lahiri nominally follows the separate paths taken by two brothers, Subhash and Udayan. The brothers were born in Calcutta. Subhash, the elder of the two, is a scientist who immigrates from India to the United States. The younger brother, Udayan stays in India where he becomes a political activist fighting for the rights of the poor. When tragedy strikes, Subhash returns to India and tries to put the pieces of his family back together.

This story has its main beginning in the 1960, a period of unrest not only in India, but around the world. The boys were born into a traditional family, and Udayan breaks with tradition by marrying for love. This puts his wife, Gauri, in a difficult position. Not only does Gauri hunger to be something more than just a wife and mother, but she also seeks to get an education. She is also despised by her in-laws, a situation that becomes even more tense when Gauri has children.

In The Lowland, Lahiri examines not only the inner-family rivalries and problems of this Indian family - and its myriad secrets, but she also juxtaposes these personal problems with those of India as a whole as it morphs into a modern nation state, with all the conflicts, disruptions, and social chaos that such a change often engenders. I've not read any of Lahiri's early works, so I cannot make a comparison. What I can say is that this is a lyrical novel filled with both pain and joy that brings the world of India in the 60's, and beyond, vibrantly to life. It is also a complicated story about the consequences of the choices that we make, cultural differences, and the desire that most people have to succeed. If you like multi-generational family sagas, you will simply devour this book. In addition, the semi-exotic setting for this book (especially for those who did not grow up in India), adds an added dimension. Along with the fine cast of characters and it's compelling story line, The Lowland is sure to become a classic.

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