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The Lowland
432 pages; Vintage Contemporaries
“You're the other side of me, Subhash. It's without you that I’m nothing. Don't go,” pleads Udayan to his older brother, who’s leaving Calcutta to attend an American university. The intimate connection between the siblings informs and impacts every other relationship in The Lowland, Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri’s thrillingly nuanced new work. Using the turbulent lives of the two brothers as her lens, Lahiri poses hard questions about the political and emotional ramifications of colonialism. While a radicalized Udayan joins a violent insurgency movement to fight for workers’ rights, a quieter rebellion simmers in generous, self-effacing Subhash, who, despite having left behind his family and the traditions of India, remains the dutiful brother, husband and father, always doing what is necessary, what he thinks is right. Subhash's wife, Gauri, is equally intriguing—a deeply flawed woman reeling from the loss of her first love. Gauri elicits our contempt, our empathy and everything in between, and is a haunting reminder that no action is without repercussion. Thronged with twists and turns, including a tragedy that forever upends the family, this book is Lahiri's most ambitious work to date, brimming with pain and love and all of life’s profound beauty.
— Diane Mehta