The book starts quite slow with some awkward prose. It wasn’t until about page 100 that I got into the book. If I hadn’t been reading on deadline (and a friend told me it got better), I wouldn’t have persisted so long.
It’s the story of two brothers from India. One leaves to study in America and the other joins the revolution. (spoiler alert) One brother slowly builds a life for himself in the research world of a university in Rhode Island. The other is killed by the authorities, launching a series of events in the lives of his whole family. The first brother marries the second brother’s pregnant wife and brings her to America to start fresh.
This is a complex and layered story that keeps changing perspective chapter by chapter. None of the characters are particularly likeable and I came away from the book not really sure if I liked it. The wife does things that seem impossible and the only character that appears to escape the action of the second brother is the child.
Last year I read Cutting for Stone and really liked it. This book felt like a poor shadow of Cutting for Stone. Two Indian brothers on two very different tracks. The romantic exploits of one ties up the future of the other with near tragic results.
Others in the book club had read other books by Lahiri and felt others had a better writing style.