Thursday, September 19, 2013

Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Lowland"

Jhumpa Lahiri's latest offering "The Lowland" lyrically tells the stories of Mitra family whose members are islands onto themselves, trapped in their own individual existence. Jhumpa gives ample amount of attention to each of her characters, slowly building up their background and preparing the readers to anticipate their moves (although they occasionally spring surprises at the reader). Subhash and Udayan's upbringing in Calcutta, Subhash's journey to the US for further studies in Oceanography, Udayan's involvement in the Naxalite movement and subsequent death, the struggles of pregnant Gauri (Udayan's wife), her remarriage with Subhash, their strained relationship, traumatized life of Bela (Gauri's daughter), reserved life of Subhash's parents and many other events have been presented in a poignant manner. The navel point of the novel is a lie and hesitation to tell the truth. The problem of getting along and letting go runs as a theme in the novel. Also the ghost of Udayan haunts each member of Mitra family and serves as a catalyst towards their estrangement from one another. Events repeat themselves and succeeding generations go through same tortures as their predecessors. Literary figures like simile, dramatic irony, parallelism and others have elevated the stature of the novel to make it a contemporary classic. Strongly recommended!

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