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Jhumpa Lahiri, mountain literature and revamping the classics pulp fiction style

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 08 September 2013

Jhumpa Lahiri was awarded the Pulitzer prize for her first book, Interpreter of Maladies, which subsequently became a bestseller. Now 13 years later, her second novel is Booker nominated. A family saga of sorts, The Lowland explores an event in Indian history, the Naxalite movement, a peasant rebellion which was inspired by Communist China and began in the village of Naxalbari in 1967. Following the fortunes of two brothers Subhash and Udayan, the novel traces the legacy of a doomed young man's idealism on those he leaves in his wake. The story is set between Calcutta, where Jhumpa's family hail from and Rhode Island, where she was subsequently raised.

Mountains are an enduring lure for even the least adventurous of climbers - as the queues to reach the top of Mount Snowdon can attest. Conjuring up the magic of mountains continues to exert a powerful hold over the imaginations of writers, as revealed in the newly-announced shortlist for the Boardman Tasker Prize, now in its 30th year. Simon Bainbridge, Professor of Romantic Studies at Lancaster University, and journalist and mountaineering historian Audrey Salkeld discuss the literary opportunities for readers wanting an armchair experience of the world's high places.

From lofty mountains to desert islands, spooky attics and misty moors, the settings for some of our much loved literary classics. A number of them have now been given an intriguing face lift, with new covers worthy of any B movie posters from the 1950s. Publisher Ian Mills, the man behind this revamped look of our old favourites, explains why he went for the pulp fiction treatment.

Producer: Andrea Kidd.

  • Read the Opening Chapter of The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

    Chapter 1: The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

    The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Get ahead with Mariella’s next book - Police by Jo Nesbo

    Find Chapter 1 of Police by Jo Nesbo

    Chapter 1 of Police by Jo Nesbo

    The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
    Publisher: Bloomsbury

    Authors of Books on Mountains:

    Walter Scott
    Andy Cave

    Books on Mountains:

    Freedom Climbers
    by Bernadette McDonald
    Publisher: Rocky Mountain Books

    Mountains of the Mind
    by Robert MacFarlane
    Publisher: Granta and Pantheon

    The White Spider
    by Heinrich Harrer
    Publisher: Penguin Putnam

    The Reichenbach Falls
    by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    The Hobbit
    The Lord of the Rings
    by J R R Tolkien
    Publisher: Harper Collins

    The Mystery of Mallory and Irvine
    by Tom Holzel and Audrey Serkeld
    Publisher: Vintage

    A Portrait of Leni Riefenstahl
    by Audrey Salkeld
    Publisher: Jonathan Cape

    by Maurice Herzog

    Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest
    by Wade Davis
    Publisher: Vintage

    Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
    by John Krakauer
    Publisher: Villard

    The Ascent of Rum Doodle
    by W E Bowman
    Published by Max Parrish & Co

    Thomas Hood's Comic Manual 1832

    No Man's Land, a history of Spitsbergen
    by William Martin Conway

    Pulp! The Classics:

    The Hound of the Baskervilles
    by Arthur Conan Doyle

    Robinson Crusoe
    by Daniel Defoe

    Wuthering Heights
    by Emily Bronte

    Tess of the D'Urbervilles
    by Thomas Hardy

    The Picture of Dorian Gray
    by Oscar Wilde

    Pride and Prejudice
    by Jane Austen

    The Great Gatsby
    by F Scott Fitzgerald


Mariella Frostrup
Interviewed Guest
Jhumpa Lahiri
Interviewed Guest
Simon Bainbridge
Interviewed Guest
Audrey Salkeld
Interviewed Guest
Ian Mills
Andrea Kidd


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