The New Yorker Summer Fiction Issue: “Brotherly Love” by Jhumpa Lahiri

130610_2013_p154Brotherly Love” by Jhumpa Lahiri

We learn from the Q&A with Jhumpa Lahiri that “Brotherly Love” is an excerpt from Lahiri’s new novel, forthcoming later this year. Although this worked reasonably well as a story (except for the long time period it covers) I’m glad to hear it, because these are quite interesting characters and I’d willingly read more about them. Sounds like a good novel and an interesting time in India’s history.

Two brothers in Calcutta, born 15 months apart. The brothers remain close even though as they grow up they become very different. The elder brother goes to the US to study; the younger stays home and is politically active in a Maoist group. Against custom, the younger brother marries a woman of his own choosing, before his elder brother. But then he dies (he is, in fact, killed by the police). The elder brother comes home when he hears about his brother’s death. What’s particularly interesting then is the elder brother’s relationship with his brother’s widow.

So, this is quite an interesting novel excerpt that is, apparently, about the Calcutta area. The politics of the younger brother are quite interesting, with his Maoist leanings, in contrast with the older brother’s apolitical behavior. (In the US, he is tempted to join protests against the Vietnam war, but decides it isn’t his place.) He is, however, both admiring of his younger brother’s commitment and angry that it got him killed. His love for his brother is, in large part, what then attracts him to Gauri, his sister-in-law.

It’s long, but worth the read, and is available for free.

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  1. Lahiri goes deep into the psyche of her characters to tell us the bare bones truth beneath the surface of their lives and thoughts. We care about the brothers, and want to learn more about what happens next…We are hooked…

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