Look Inside Reading Guide. Reading Guide. Sep 24, Minutes Buy. Moving from the s to the present, and from India to America and across generations, this dazzling novel is Jhumpa Lahiri at the height of her considerable powers. From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author of The Namesake comes an extraordinary new novel, set in both India and America, that expands the scope and range of one of our most dazzling storytellers: a tale of two brothers bound by tragedy, a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past, a country torn by revolution, and a love that lasts long past death.
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How do the differences between the boys both strengthen and strain the tie between them? What part do their parents play in fostering the roles each boy assumes? Do you think that Udayan is manipulative, or does Subhash misread him p. How do his feelings about school and about his roommate, Richard, bring to light both his pleasure and his uncertainties about his new independence? What does it reveal about his emotional ties to his old life and family?
How do the descriptions of Calcutta pp. Is Subhash right to believe that the only way to help the child is to take Gauri away p. From the start, Gauri and Subhash react differently to Bela and to parenthood. What is the source of the underlying uneasiness of their marriage? To what extent are they haunted by their attachments to Udayan? What other factors make Gauri feel resentful and trapped? Is Subhash partially responsible for her unhappiness?
What effect does his visit to Calcutta and its many reminders of Udayan have on Subhash—as a son, a brother, and a father? After Gauri the family, what does Bela rely on to make sense of the situation and to create a life for herself? Is her reclusiveness natural, given her family history, although much of it is unknown to her? In what ways do her decisions about her education and her work represent her need to separate and distinguish herself from her parents?
The novel presents many kinds of parents—present and absent, supportive and reluctant. What questions does the novel raise about the challenges and real meaning of being a parent? She had generated alternative versions of herself, she had insisted at brutal cost on these conversations. Is this an accurate and just self-assessment, or is Gauri too hard on herself—and if so, why? Still pretending to be her father. The need to tell her hung over him, terrified him.
To what extent are the continued deceptions fed by the love and sense of loyalty Gauri and Subhash feel toward Udayan even years after his death? Why do you think Lahiri chose to tell the story in this way? How does this method increase the power of the narrative? Do your opinions of and sympathies for the characters change as more information is revealed? Before reading The Lowland , were you aware of the Naxalite movement?
The group remains active: on May 25, , Naxalite insurgents attacked a convoy of Indian National Congress leaders, causing the deaths of at least twenty-seven people. What insights does Lahiri offer into the development of radical political groups? What role does history play in the creation of the Naxalite movement and, by extension, other uprisings around the world?
What parallels do you see between the events described in the novel and recent activities in the Egypt and other countries torn by internal dissension and violence? Share: Share on Facebook.
Add to Cart. Set in India and America, it is a beautifully crafted and heartbreaking portrait of three generations bound and fractured by the demands of love and loyalty.
The newly won independence from Britain and the partition establishing Pakistan as a separate country has left India struggling with political turmoil; the age-old problems of poverty and class divisions remain a source of social unrest and conflict. The brothers share the adventures and innocent rivalries of childhood, but when Udayan, the younger, more daring brother, joins a radical political group in college, the tie between them begins to unravel.
Subhash chooses a different, safer path, leaving India to do postgraduate research in oceanography in Rhode Island. As Subhash slowly adjusts to life in America, Udayan becomes ever more deeply involved with the revolutionary movement at home. In a letter to Subhash, he writes of his marriage to Gauri and his hope that his brother will come home one day to meet her. As the lives of the characters unfold, The Lowland becomes a moving exploration of how the choices they make and the secrets they keep reverberate across place and time.
Questions and Topics for Discussion 1. Learn More About The Lowland print. LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices. Read it Forward Read it first. Pass it on! Stay in Touch Sign up. We are experiencing technical difficulties. Please try again later.
The Lowland Reader’s Guide
I have great respect for Jhumpa Lahiri. Her first collection brought emotional power and moral complexity back to a form that had drifted deep into an arid, academic minimalism, and contained pieces that were as formally inventive in their own rich way as any of Raymond Carver 's more austere miracles. Two Bengali brothers, close but unalike, forge very different paths for themselves as they grow up in Calcutta during the s and 60s. Subhash, the older, is the more passive and conventional. From speeches and leaflets he progresses to knives and bombs, and is forced into hiding after his involvement in the killing of a policeman.
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But Udayan is killed by the police, and his older brother, Subhash, apolitical, passive, but responsible, returns home from graduate school in the United States to console his parents. Gauri gives birth to a girl, Bela, while also pursuing an academic career of her own in philosophy. By the end of the novel, when Bela is almost 40, the reader will have encountered four generations of this particular family. It sounds epic in sweep, especially when combined with the laden, potent themes, the intertwining of politics and sexuality, the cauterizing of emotional wounds and grievances, and the repetition of places and personalities.