After reading The Lowland in two days, not for the reason the book is easy to read. But for Jhumpa Lahiri is a natural-born storyteller. She indeed is. In this book, she introduces two brothers, close in age who are poles apart, Udayan, the revolutionary brother who gets caught up in the Mao-inspired Naxalite movement to wipe out poverty in India and his more reserved and dutiful brother, Subhash, who leaves home to pursue an academic and scientific life in Rhode Island. When Udayan inevitably gets swept into a revolutionary movement that turns out badly, Subhash returns home briefly, and picks up the pieces, including an attempt to heal the emotional scars of his brother’s young wife.
As the plot goes on, Lahiri covers about 70 years of life span in mere 340 pages. The craftsmanship is indeed good but when I was on the last few pages I truly felt that she is a storyteller, but this novel was just average product of her skill of writing. I am not saying it is not readable. The way she started the story, the details of the political conditions and living conditions in 60s of Calcutta(Kolkata, now) to provide a scenario to the reader such that he would feel the connection with story. With her writing, it’s all about making a reader feel connected with the story, the plot, and the characters are just a phase in-between. Soon they all fade away. This ideology is true with her previous books also which I have read in past two months span, The Namesake and Unaccustomed Earth. It took me three books to decipher and understand her artistic style of making a reader feel connected towards the story till the end. Many writers do not or they just partially do. At first they do try but as the plot continues to move forward, either they loose the confidence of adjoining the read or they just do not want to. But Lahiri is exceptional. Lahiri knows how to indulge a reader in her book.
Her third person narration is way to flatter and flirt with the readers. I got flattered. The plot of The Lowland is overall very generic and to some it might turn out to be addictive in some way. She is certainly my favorite story tellers of the contemporary world.
The book was nominated for the Man Booker Prize 2013, and Jhumpa Lahiri has won The Pulitzer Prize for her Interpreter of Maladies which is the only book of her left for me to read, till date.
I’ll go for 3.5 of 5.