The Lowland is a novel by famed writer Jhumpa Lahiri, winner of numerous awards and accolades. The book starts out simply enough, with the two brothers introduced in the strife ridden times when the Naxal movement first gained momentum. The two brothers are poles apart, differences that shown with subtle language and expressions. The political and social landscape is well depicted in the book and goes on to demonstrate the very fibre of the ethos that drove the movement. Kolkata literally comes alive with Lahiri’s writing.
The heroine is introduced much later in the tome, and her character is one that propels the book towards a dramatic path – one that is unmatched even by the descriptions of the Naxal movement in the book. She is full of contradictions and in constant search of that one defining thing in her life. The search for this anchor is what finally culminates in a fitting climax where a mother and her daughter come face to face – one who lost control by adhering to tradition, the other who gained it by rebelling against the same.
The other characters, their everyday inner chaos and the existential angst may have been based on extra ordinary circumstances, yet the overwhelming nature of their feelings is very everyday, everyone. This is what really strikes a chord as you read the book. Lahiri could very well have presented a more gory and historical account of the times that the characters lived and lost in, yet she chose to focus on the characters, which makes it all beautiful, and literally makes the story breathe.
Read this book for the wonderfully layered language and literary genius that rears its head with almost every paragraph and sentence of the book!