The Lowland is the first book I’ve read by Jhumpa Lahiri. It is of no doubt that she is the top class writer. She is very knowledgeable and a keen observer. The minute details she has mentioned in the book can be easily overlooked in the real life but infused the life into the book.
The Lowland is the story of two brothers and their family. There is nothing extraordinary in the plot. But the way Jhumpa has woven the story in the background of the onset of Naxalite movement is marvelous. She tells the story in a very simple language using simple words, but her words were put at the right place and time giving those words the power to picture the entire story.
Throughout the book, I kept having the feeling that everything is happening in front of my eyes and I’m the witness of this family’s life. Jhumpa seamlessly and effortlessly transfers from one country to another, from one decade to another, telling the story through her different characters. It was like traveling in a time machine.
The best part is, Jhumpa by using all the characters in the book to tell their part of the story. In this way readers got the chance to know the emotions and thoughts of every character. Every character contributed something about the way in which Udayan died. Drawing the whole picture and helping the reader to understand the character’s state of mind during that point.
Udayan’s death has blown apart the entire family into fragments. And all credit to Jhumpa for portraying it in the most practical and real manner. Both his parents life came to a standstill. They died with Udayan though physically they died much later. This also drifted them apart from their other son Subhas. Lahari truly captures how one event can shape a family’s lives, but also how the choices people make over time mold them just as much.
Verdict: The Lowland touched my heart. I’ve spend 27 years of my life in Kolkata before moving out. The description of the Kolkata city, now and then, were closest to the reality. I strongly felt myself in Kolkata whenever she described the surroundings of the city.
Jhumpa has done her research on Naxalite very well coupled with her description very close to real life makes the book The Lowland an exceptionally intriguing book to read. A must read for all those who love to read books. A pleasure to read.