Wednesday, 18 December 2013

BOOK REVIEW : The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Authors are very special people who have the rare talent of creating stories out of events occurring in our regular lives. With their magical wand i.e. their pens they breathe life into the stories with such real characters that we start believing in their existence and living their lives for a short span. 

Jhumpa Lahiri is one such accomplished author. Her characters are so believable that one can easily relate, empathize with them.

The Lowland is another beautiful creation of hers'. 

This is a story set against the backdrop of the Naxalite movement which had rocked West Bengal in the 60's and the early 70's. It is about two brothers Subhash and Udayan who are born just fifteen months apart . Though the  brothers are very close and are always together, their nature and temperaments are polar to each other. Where Subhash is quiet, responsible, always towing to the line, Udayan is the risk taker, challenging the societal rules and very impulsive. Once they grow up, the brothers become distant, each choosing his own path- Subhash going away to America to pursue a  life of scientific research and Udayan getting drawn into the Naxalite movement.Subhash returns back to India after he gets the news of Udayan's death. Back in India Subhash feels betrayed by the sudden and mysterious death of Udayan. For the first time in his life Subhash leaves his sensible side and on an impulse gets married to Gauri, Udayan's wife, taking her to America to start their lives anew. But life is never as simple as we want it to be. It throws unexpected twists in the lives of Subhash and Gauri as they try to make a life for themselves in a new territory amidst the omnipresent memory of Udayan and the unclear events surrounding his sudden death.

The story progresses through the lives of these central characters across India and America, with them growing old, living with their guilt, regrets and some deep hidden truths that never let them sleep peacefully in nights.
Lahiri ends the book not with a happy ending but on a positive note, because we all know that life is not a movie or a classic mills and boon story which has a picture perfect end. It is rather an always moving forward journey where we take along the good memories and experiences, leaving behind all that saddens and hurts us.

This book just like our lives is not perfect but is sure worth a read to be able to appreciate Lahiri's deep understanding of the human psyche. We are the most complex creatures as we are not drawn not only by our basic need of food, clothing and shelter but also by our emotional, mental and deep psychological needs.