The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

I wanted to love this book. I wanted to engage with the characters and learn from them but somehow it all became dull and lifeless. I hope that those of you who did love this book will let me know where I went wrong.

The story begins with such promise, introducing us to two brothers, Subhash and Udayan Mitra who live in Calcutta next to the marshy lowlands. Subhash is intellectual  and studious and Udayan is passionate and reckless and as they grow up it is Udayan who often leads them into trouble. As they grow older, Subhash pursues scientific studies in a quiet coastal town on the east coast of the United States, while Udayan pursues his passion for a just and equitable society by joining the Naxallite movement whose Communist tendencies make it a suspect organization. In his letters to Subhash learns that Udayan has met and married a young woman and that hey are living with his parents in the family home. But then tragedy strikes and Udayan is killed and Subhash must return to India to try to make sense of the tragedy and help his parents and Udayan’s wife, Gauri, pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

And then somehow the the air went out of the narrative and the rest of the book seems flat, dull and lifeless.  It is as if with Udayan gone there was nothing left for the other characters to react against. and without any agency of their own they drift through the pages of the book like shadows without substance. This was such a disappointment since I really enjoyed Lahiri’s Pulitzer Price winning novel, The Namesake, which described with such authenticity the immigrant experience and which I would highly recommend instead!

So those of you who loved this book, tell me what I am missing here. I look forward to some interesting and thought provoking commentary!

Brenda’s Rating: **(2 out of 5 Stars)

Recommend this book to: No One

Book Study Worthy? No

Read in ebook format.


This entry was posted in Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Prize Winner. Bookmark the permalink.

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