Set in the 1960s, “The Lowland”, provides a view of suburban streets of Calcutta (Kolkata) through the eyes of Subhash.
The first seed of the novel was planted 16 years ago, when Lahiri heard about an incident that had happened very close to her grandparents’ home in Tollygunge, where two brothers, followers of the Naxalite movement, were killed in front of their parents.
“I had close family members who were very politically active. Most of my family are CPI(M) [Communist Party of India (Marxist)] — the Naxalite party was an extreme splinter off of that. There would be party meetings in my grandparents’ house in Calcutta. I would witness that life in that city, and people who believed as they did. It felt both outside of me and within me, somehow,” She told The Telegraph newspaper last week.
“The Lowland” is Lahiri’s second novel and fourth book.
Raised in London, Boston and Rhode Island, Lahiri, a member of US President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, had won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with her debut short story collection “Interpreter of Maladies”.
Her first novel “The Namesake” (2003) was turned into a popular film of the same name by filmmaker Mira Nair.
Besides Lahiri, two-time Booker nominee and Irish writer Colm Toibin, English writer Jim Crace, NoViolet Bulawayo of Zimbabwe, New Zealander Eleanor Catton, and Canadian Ruth Ozeki have been included in the shortlist.
The Booker Prize winner, announced on Oct 15, will receive 50,000 pounds ($78,550) and the promise of an almost certain increase in book sales.
“We were drawn to novels that sought to extend the power and possibilities of the form,” Robert Macfarlane, author and academic and chairman of this year’s judging panel told journalists. “We were looking for originality.”
It took the judges 10 months and eight meetings to distil this year’s more than 150 entries. Macfarlane called the long list the most diverse in recent memory.
The six shortlisted authors will receive Â£2,500 each and be presented with a hard-bound edition of their book.
The annual contest is sponsored by hedge-fund manager Man Group Plc.
The six books are:
- The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri.
- The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton.
- We Need New Names – NoViolet Bulawayo.
- Harvest – Jim Crace.
- A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki.
- The Testament of Mary – Colm Toibin.