Fall Books: Jhumpa Lahriri's The Lowland

Yet again, Jhumpa Lahiri makes domestic angst sound good in the author’s latest novel, The Lowland—which has landed it at the top of our fall books list.

Maureen Halushak
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The Lowland Jhumpa Lahiri (Knopf Canada, $29.95)

The framework of Jhumpa Lahiri’s fourth book—long-listed for the Man Booker Prize before its official release—is a familiar one: Gifted Indian scholar moves to America to attend an East Coast university; crises both cultural and personal ensue. In The Lowland, 27-year-old Subhash Mitra— who grew up in Calcutta on a narrow lane abutting the titular pivotal plain—is joined at the hip with his 15-months-younger brother, Udayan. Their lives diverge when Subhash pursues graduate studies in oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, while Udayan becomes radicalized, fighting the government on behalf of the poor in the Naxalbari revolt of the late 1960s. Tragedy strikes, severing Subhash’s bonds to brother and country, while simultaneously ensuring the three remain indelibly linked thanks to Udayan’s daughter, whom Subhash raises as his own over the nearly four decades that follow. As per usual, Lahiri—who won a Pulitzer Prize out of the gate for her first book of short stories, 1999’s Interpreter of Maladies—takes potentially tawdry family dramarama to a higher place with gorgeous prose, intricate plotting and many rip-your-heart-out moments, both large and small.

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