Growing up in Calcutta, born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the other. But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead of them. It is the 1960s, and Udayan--charismatic and impulsive--finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty: he will give everything, risk all, for what he believes. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother's political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America.
But when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family's home, he comes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family, and to heal the wounds Udayan left behind--including those seared in the heart of his brother's wife.
Pages: 344 (hardback)
Publisher: Published September 24th 2013 by Knopf (first published September 8th 2013)
Rating: 9 out of 10
Source: Checked out of the library
Date Completed: November 7, 2013
I was excited that The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri was selected for both of the book clubs I am in for the November and December meetings. The story of the brothers, Udayan and Subhash drew me in instantly. I was especially struck with how their relationship evolved as Subhash moved abroad to pursue his education while Udayan stayed in India and became more engrossed in politics. My parents both left siblings behind in India when they got married and began a life in the United States. I have often been curious about how their relationships with their siblings evolved over time and distance. In the book, Subhash and Udayan drifted apart, but as they story unfolds, we come to know that their fundamental connection remains in tact.
My favorite character was Subhash. He was thoughtful and insightful; his journey seemed the longest and the most fulfilling. I wanted more from the female characters, particularly Gauri. Her character seemed limited and unlike able. I appreciated her desire for a fresh start, the chance to pursue a professional career, and time alone. However, I felt frustrated with her lack of concern for her daughter and inability to communicate with Subhash.
In addition to book clubs, I am counting this book for the following challenges: