Book Review: The Lowland — By Jhumpa Lahiri (Best of 2013)

If you are brought up in a family that has its roots in the erstwhile East Bengal/East Pakistan and today’s Bangladesh , you probably would have heard a first person narration of incidents that form the overall backdrop of this book. 

While everything has changed drastically in the past 30 – 40 years , the pain and agony of leaving behind a place where you have spend your entire childhood and the formative years of life, is difficult to express in words.

Over 300 pages of a story that has been textured with the “Theory of Displacement” and “Migration”, is an internationally acclaimed book. It has won nomination into the Man Booker Prize in 2013 and most importantly, the book has generated a lot of interest among the Indian readers : Jaipur Literature Festival: Jhumpa Lahiri was the crowd puller for Day 2″ –  India Today

So what does all this mean for a regular reader who is still thinking , whether I should buy this much talked about book. Is this my kind of book? 

According to me, verdict is irrelevant for a book like this. Although, here is an attempt of a reader to share his honest opinion and a first hand experience of reading this book.

Also contains the brief story line and introduction to the main characters for the prospective readers of this book. 

Two brothers, Subhash and Udayan grew up together in The Lowland near their house in Tollygunge. As time passed, they began to drift ideologically though emotionally they were glued till death ! Naxalism and Physics was a difficult combo to live together. Though they shared the same room , listened to the same short wave radio , shared the same cigarette but they were also living the same air of uncertainty and revolt.  

Subhash went to Rhode Island to pursue his doctoral degree while Udayan found himself completely in the vortex of Naxalism. He denounced government, helped plotting murders and in planting bombs at busy localities. He married his friend’s sister Gauri who also had the same tinge of thought and did not find it necessary to seek the approval of his parents. As time passed, Udayan brought Gauri to his Tollygunge house and clandestinely worked for the organisation. Udayan was shot dead in presence of Gauri and his parents only to live through his unborn child in Gauri. Redeeming pregnant Gauri from the conservative eyes of his parents, Subhash married Gauri and took her to Rhode Island.

In Rhode Island, Gauri delivered a girl child named Bela.  After 12 years, Gauri ended the marriage of convenience and left behind both Subhash and Bela. 

Dismantled lives , shattered emotions ! The L
 by Jhumpa Lahiri is a story of sacrifice, freedom and treachery. It talks about four generations and is a perfect saga of penmanship depicting both Bengali and American culture and h
ow lives change when nations go through severe political upheaval and people are caught between ideologies and emotions.

The pace of the book is slow, but engaging and a irresistible book for readers with patience and who appreciate good writingAuthor’s previous works ; The Namesake , Interpretation of Maladies and now The Lowland, all try to forge a link with the native place, that is Bengal.  And the writer showed her mastery of the subject brilliantly in this story. The language and the writing style is inspirational, its  like a spring of fresh water that completely seeps into your mind and the outcome is simply magical. Reading this book is an experience, something that every aspiring writer should read !  
— Reviewed  by Sudama Chandra Panigrahi
    Author of the book  Love across the border


One thought on “Book Review: The Lowland — By Jhumpa Lahiri (Best of 2013)

  1. character sketches in this book are awesome, always a forte of Jhumpa Lahiri, she draws them wonderfully well, details them with sharp emotions and intricacies…. not sure if the same can be true of her talent in dealing with macro issues like Naxalite movement..

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