Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Review: The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Introduction
  • ISIN: 978-81-8400-575-2
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Publishers: Random House India
  • Price: Rs. 399/- (I received the book for review from the publisher)
Two brothers bound by tragedy; a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past; a country torn by revolution. A powerful new novel--set in both India and America--that explores the price of idealism and a love that can last long past death.

Growing up in Calcutta, born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the other. But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead of them. It is the 1960s, and Udayan--charismatic and impulsive--finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty: he will give everything, risk all, for what he believes. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother's political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America.

But when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family's home, he comes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family, and to heal the wounds Udayan left behind--including those seared in the heart of his brother's wife.

Suspenseful, sweeping, piercingly intimate, The Lowland expands the range of one of our most dazzling storytellers, seamlessly interweaving the historical and the personal across generations and geographies. This masterly novel of fate and will, exile and return, is a tour de force and an instant classic.


Behind The book
Source: Google Images


About the author

Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London and brought up in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. Brought up in America by a mother who wanted to raise her children to be Indian, she learned about her Bengali heritage from an early age.

Lahiri graduated from South Kingstown High School and later received her B.A. in English literature from Barnard College in 1989. She then received multiple degrees from Boston University: an M.A. in English, an M.A. in Creative Writing, an M.A. in Comparative Literature and a Ph.D. in Renaissance Studies. She took up a fellowship at Provincetown's Fine Arts Work Center, which lasted for the next two years (1997-1998).

In 2001, she married Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush, a journalist who was then Deputy Editor of TIME Latin America. Lahiri currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children. She has been a Vice President of the PEN American Center since 2005.

Lahiri taught creative writing at Boston University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Much of her short fiction concerns the lives of Indian-Americans, particularly Bengalis.

She received the following awards, among others:
1999 - PEN/Hemingway Award (Best Fiction Debut of the Year) for "Interpreter of Maladies";
2000 - The New Yorker's Best Debut of the Year for "Interpreter of Maladies";
2000 - Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her debut Interpreter of Maladies

Me thinks

Jhumpa Lahiri is one author who never ceases to surprise me every time with her writing. She is so inimitable that she makes you fall in love with her writing yet another time.

This book is about two brothers who are born 15 months apart and grow up like twins in almost every sense. It is when one is drawn to the growing Naxalite tension in his city that the other chooses to fly away to foreign shores only to return when all that he could call his own is damaged beyond repair. And from here starts the story of finding, losing, loving, hating and growing up to live a life you don’t know the meaning of.

What struck me the most in this book was the sheer nakedness of human emotions! She is one author who doesn’t hide behind the mask of the so called perfection that people often pretend of their lives to be. She removes all the jazz and shows us the bare souls with their imperfections, people who falter, make mistakes in life and at times don’t realize for years together that they have wronged someone yet continue to live the life of a victim instead of a villain. At the end of the day we are all out rightly selfish in wanting a lot of things for our own benefit and don’t want to think of anyone else beyond a point. The author brings out this selfish aspect hidden in all of us very nicely.

I enjoyed reading this story purely for the strong narration, the way she takes me back and forth in time and proves me wrong in every twist is what made me love this book through and through. The story is what one would call unconventional but then life never promised to be conventional right; it is just a matter of time when we remove our pink glasses to face the harsh reality of the world around us. And for this book is that reality check we often need.

Recommended for the sheer brilliance in the story and narration!

Foodie Verdict

This book is like cham-cham - differntly sweet, unique and different.

Source: Google Images