The Lowland is Jhumpa Lahiri’s second novel. Set in Calcutta, the book narrates the story of two brothers born 15 months apart. Subhash and Udayan have done everything together from the very beginning be it studies or play. The title of the book, The Lowland, refers to the stretch of marshy land between two ponds near the house where the brothers grew up. During the monsoons, the land would fill up with water and the two ponds would become one. This refers to the two brothers, at times separate, other times together in everything.
The book is set in the Calcutta of the 1950s and ’60s. The narrative moves ahead in time but we are time and again taken back in time. The elder brother, Subhash earns a scholarship and moves to America, away from his family. The younger brother Udayan gets involved in the Maoist “Naxalite” movement taking place in Bengal. Their lives go on Udayan gets married to the girl he loves, Gauri. But tragedy sticks and he is killed in an encounter with the police in the same lowland where he once played. Subhas has to come back and the lives of three individuals are completely changed forever.
The Lowland is a book that has its own pace that you will get used to. While reading the book, you will understand where the characters come from and what they are feeling. Jhumpa Lahiri is a master storyteller and her words will draw you in completely after the first 30 pages or so. I read the book in almost one sitting and felt a sadness inside that was hard to describe. There is beauty in the pain that Lahiri manages to capture down to the T. The book is about the choices that we make while growing up and how those choices have the power to change our reality.
Also, check out: Books By Jhumpa Lahiri That You Must Read