The Lowland (Jhumpa Lahiri)


Why did you choose this book?

Part of my job as a librarian is leading book discussions, held monthly at our library.  We have fiction and nonfiction groups and this month’s fiction pick was “The Lowland.”  It was the first discussion I’ve led, so I was a bit nervous.

What’s it about?

The book revolves around two brothers with a very close relationship – the older and more cautious Subhash and the younger and more adventurous Udayan.  The story begins when they are children and ends 60-70 years later.  Udayan marries a very smart young woman named Gauri and becomes involved in a socialist group known as the Naxalites.  Subhash moves to America to continue his education.  This book is a story of these three individuals and how their lives intersect, diverge, and ultimately impact one another’s.

Category time!

I don’t have to hesitate – literary fiction.  Wikipedia offers a good definition – literary novels “offer deliberate social commentary, political criticism, or focus on the individual to explore some part of the human condition.”

Other recommended books?

I’m not sure.  This is the first novel I’ve read with a focus on India and Indian culture.  I’ve read some other literary fiction but didn’t enjoy it as well.  I may have to read some more before providing recommendations.

Final thoughts?

I tend to read fiction without that “literary” angle, so it took me about half of the novel to really become invested in the characters and start enjoying it.  It was a good read about family relationships and life choices, and inspired me to do some additional research about Indian culture and the Naxalite movement.  I can’t give it a glowing recommendation, but it was good.

Next up?

The Melody Lingers On by Mary Higgins Clark


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