The Lowland, the second novel written by Jhumpa Lahiri, was published in 2013. Jhumpa Lahiri is an American author, known well for her short stories, essays and novels. A woman of an Indian origin, her works have explored both India and the United States, Rhode Island being one of the places where she has been raised.
A huge success, The Lowland was critically received extremely well for being a power packed story, bursting with emotion. The book was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2013 and the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction in 2014. It was also a commercial success, selling enormous numbers of copies worldwide.
Jhumpa Lahiri, with The Lowland, has explored emotions and themes that are immensely sensitive and heart wrenching. With a complex weave of multiple characters, the plot has been written brilliantly, with a turn of events and lives of each and every character, completing the full circle of life.
The plot starts with a focus on two young brothers in an area of Tollygunge in Calcutta, describing their close bond as they take up every activity together, helping each other along the way. In a way, these two boys, just a few months apart, completed each other, one filling up the part that is lacking in the other. Even though these two boys are related by blood, both have personalities that are strikingly different - Subash, the elder and more cautious brother and Udayan, the carefree and brave brother. In spite of being seemingly inseparable, fate has something else in store for both of them, a fate so twisted that it changes their attachment forever.
A visible divide between each other was created with time when Udayan was influenced by an ideology so extreme that he awaited a revolution, pooling in all his time and effort to contribute to the same. Subash, on the other side, unaffected by the ideology, focussed to achieve what every ordinary boy from a middle class family does – an education, a job and a family. For this purpose, he left his home in Calcutta behind, to pursue his studies in the United States of America. Little did he know that the world was not going to be kind to him and the separation from his brother will no longer be by distance.
Udayan, so determined to follow his ideology, had indulged in violence, ultimately resulting in his death. Leaving behind a young widow and ageing parents, Udayan had put the responsibility of his entire life on his brother, a brother who was having experiences of his own far away from home.
The story follows the life of each and every person – Subash, Udayan, his wife Gauri and their parents, forcing an intermingling of a kind that Subash would have never intended. The story shows how each character copes with the separation from Udayan and how they handle all the consequences of Udayan’s death.
Exploring the themes of attachment, love, betrayal and loss, this book is an artistic genius. Bringing tears to the eyes of any reader, the reality of life has been set bare, showing that life is indeed filled with sorrows which only endurance and hope can overcome.
Tags : BOOK REVIEW