Two brothers, born fifteen months apart in Calcutta, India, inseparable until the 1960's when they are both in their mid twenties and their interests begin to diverge. Udayar becomes a follower of Mao's revolutionary politics and joins the Naxalite movement. Which I had to look up on the all knowing wiki. Subhash goes to America to continue his studies.
As I was reading this I felt as if the first half was like an outline, just the bare bones of the characters personalities were being revealed. Much of the political situation was more detailed. In the second half this changed and all the little touches, the observations of place, people and time that Lahiri's prose is noted for, came alive.
This is a story of regret, of mistakes made, how one person, alive and dead could effect so many for so long. It is about being unable to forgive oneself and living a life of penance and atonement. Their is some wonderful prose here, some very visual observations about the price of violence and revolution. At times I did feel that Lahiri was portraying her characters at a remove, an almost emotionless narrative of their lives. By the time I finished this book I realized just how well her technique worked because I felt that I knew them and understood them very well. It was just so gradual that until the end I could not put it together.
If the reader is patient with this novel, I believe many will feel the same way.