HELEN ROGAN, Allison Adato, Sue Corbett, and Oliver Jones
September 30, 2013 12:00 PM

People PICK

The Lowland

by Jhumpa Lahiri |

REVIEWED BY HELEN ROGAN

NOVEL

Pulitzer-prize winner Lahiri brings fresh life to a familiar theme in this compelling saga centered around the radical fervor of the young and the havoc it can wreak on families. In Calcutta, two clever brothers, the pride and joy of their parents, are as intertwined as twins. It’s the tumultuous ’60s, and fiery, idealistic Udayan gets swept into the revolutionary movement swirling around them. Subhash is a scientist, cautious and diligent. He’s doing graduate work in America when, back home, a catastrophe of Udayan’s making hurls him into a future he could never have imagined.

Tracking lives across four generations and two continents with crisp confidence, Lahiri has a marvelous eye for the pivotal detail: the nervous young wife crushing spices in her in-laws’ kitchen, the lonely expatriate watching a heron over a New England marsh. And it all comes back to family. Reflecting on his love for Udayan, Subhash feels a loyalty that’s “stretched halfway across the world, stretched to the breaking point by all that now stood between them, but at the same time refusing to break.”

Tinderbox

by Lisa Gornick |

REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT

NOVEL

Myra, a Manhattan psychotherapist, invites her underachieving son to move his family into her meticulously kept home while his wife completes a hospital residency. What could go wrong? Enter Eva, the housekeeper and nanny Myra hires, who gradually reveals disturbing details about her childhood that force Myra to reconsider whether her grandson should ever be left in Eva’s care. This vivid portrait of a family unravelling is perfect for book clubs.

The Affairs of Others

by Amy Grace Loyd |

NOVEL

After Celia Cassill lost her husband, she bought a Brooklyn brownstone, hoping to order her life and mind. But she’s still mired in grief when a new tenant upends her tightly controlled isolation, and she risks descending into madness. Celia’s journey is beautifully charted in this debut, with prose that mirrors her existence in her barely furnished apartment—confined, spare, but swirling with fierce emotion and insights. —R.M.

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