Micro-Review: The Lowland

Jhumpa-Lahiri-The-LowlandThe Lowland
by Jhumpa Lahiri
Knopf, 2013
340 pages (hardcover)
Source: public library


Lahiri’s latest novel explores the limits of familial love and obligation. Brothers Subhash and Udayan are inseparable growing up in Calcutta in the 1960s; sneaking into the golf club, building a radio, and studying, always together. But as they enter separate colleges and political unrest flares in the countryside, the boys begin to drift apart. While Subhash pursues doctoral studies in the U.S., Udayan gets involved in the volatile Naxalite movement, marries against his parents’ wishes, and dies tragically. Subhash’s plan to marry Udayan’s pregnant widow, Gauri, and raise his brother’s child in America is honorable, but turns out to be far more complicated than either of them anticipates. As she has demonstrated in her previous novels and short stories, Lahiri is a master of quietly complex characters, revealing with empathy the intimate surprises and stings that change a person over time. The occupants of The Lowland demonstrate that while the bonds of brotherhood may become stretched nearly beyond recognition, they are ultimately unbreakable.

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