Soon after I read Brotherly Love, the poignant story of two brothers Subhash and Udayan, in the New Yorker (June 10, 2013), I became eager to read Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland from which the short story is excerpted.
Fast forward three months.
I’ve read The Lowland.
Death – Not the End
Spanning four generations and over six decades, The Lowland is set both in India (Tollygunje area of Kolkata) and the U.S. (Rhode Island, Brooklyn and California).
Events in the early sections of the book happen mostly in India while the later parts are set in the U.S.
At its core, the book is about two brothers Subhash and Udayan and their family members (father, mother, wife, and daughter of the brothers).
But like with all fine stories, there is a rich background and texture in The Lowland that brings to life all characters, be they small like Subhash’s parents or big like Subhash, Udayan, Gauri and Bela.
Since one of the brothers has joined the Naxalites in the early 1970s in hopes of bringing succor to the oppressed , there’s considerable detail about the movement in the book. Jhumpa has done a good bit of research on the movement and it shows in the writing.
Naxalite giants Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal make their appearance as they must in any discussion of the violent movement.
The book is a story of love, sacrifice, great betrayal and immense loss when the doomed cause of “Revolution” claims one of our main characters.
If there’s a message in The Lowland, it’s that death is not the end. Never!
For the actions of the dead reverberate ferociously decades after the person has passed to a different world. And that’s precisely what happens in The Lowland.
Lowland – A Fine Read
Now is The Lowland a plausible tale?
No, not from what I know of my fellow Indians.
A more callous group of people than Indians is hard to find.
But the beauty of good fiction is that it does not require even a tinge of reality to delight the reader.
The Lowland shines despite the implausibility of the story.
Is Jhumpa Lahiri the best Indian-American writer of our times?
SearchIndia.com enthusiastically recommends The Lowland.
The book is available at all U.S. libraries and Amazon in print and electronic formats.