There is not much you need to talk about when it comes to Jhumpa Lahiri. You donot use fancy preludes, neither do you read reviews before picking up her books; she is that good and more. And “The Lowland” surely does not disappoint in fact it leaves you craving for more good literature which is definitely lacking in the literary circuits. This is surely one of the best books I have read in the year 2013, do pick this up if you still havent.
Set in Kolkata’s Lowland namely Tollygunj. The book is so called because of the flooding that happens in Tollygunj during Kolkata monsoons. During monsoons, the water hyacinths in the lakes gives an illusion of a green lawn, it is as if the lush green is a stark contrast against the blue skies, this imagery is integral to the novel.
The central story around which the novel revolves is the childhood bond between Subhash and his younger brother, Udayan who are born in Tollygunj. This bond is broken when Udayan becomes an active part of the Naxalite movement. Even though Subhash is with Udyan throughout these clandestine meetings he is against the entire ideology against the political movement.
As Udayan got deeply involved in the communist ideology Subhash chose to go to Rhode Island to study marine chemistry. He returns to India only when Udayan is shot by the police. He married his deceased brothers pregnant wife and takes her with him to Rhode Island. This is an intense tale that weaves magic, evoking nostalgia giving a distinct hangover of Calcutta that was the seat of Naxalite movement.
This is a must read book as Jhumpa Lahiri is at her best, weaving a tale of two places, a displaced family with their travails and anguish in a way that takes your breath away.
Publisher : Random House
Genre : Literary Fiction