Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri


There are many books which I do not review purely for the reason that I love to cherish them. That's why I did not review Jhumpa Lahiri's 'Unaccustomed earth' and 'Interpreter of maladies' . But I decided to talk about her book ' The Lowland ' just because I came across many negative reviews.

Some have even pledged that they would not read her books unless she tries to break out that ' NRI cocoon'. There is no dispute over the subject that too much of the same element can make a reader form his/her own preconceived notions on that particular author. But I really do not think, in this story she had used the ' NRI element' just to create a story. Calling her story trivial on this grounds would be an absolute injustice.

Some commented that the Naxalism described in the book is not suffice. Here I would like to point out that this book does not primarily delve into Naxalism. The characters of the story start their lives' journey from 1960's. Naxalism was at it zenith during that period in West Bengal. Perhaps the only place in India which saw the repercussions of Naxalism at its worst.

The fate of Gouri altered when she left Calcutta for America. The Naxalism rampant in the state pulled the trigger for it. Lahiri spoke about the movement, Kanu Sanyal and Charu Majumdar but not superfluously . The details are enough to get a reader acquainted with Naxalism. More of it would have puzzled them. Besides, the story does not demand Naxalism in detail. It is described to form a back ground and not to talk about the pros and cons of the movement.

I have even read in a review that it is an NRI love story – an emphatic ' No' to that. It would be like closing the doors of opportunities to explore a beautiful fiction. The story revolves around a few characters – Udayan, Subhash, Gouri, Bela. But they are round characters and not flat with loads of emotions to convey. They haunt you for many days. The story starts. But does it end? It is for you to discover.

I did not feel like reading a fiction with a set format. It was a journey along with evolving emotions which was a ride in its own way.


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