The lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

The lowland cover by Jhumpa Lahiri

The lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Indian fiction

Source – Review copy

 

 

Boy, you’re going to carry that weight,
Carry that weight a long time
Boy, you’re going to carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time

I never give you my pillow
I only send you my invitations
And in the middle of the celebrations
I break down

I choose this Beatles lyric because sometime we do have to carry a weight for a family member

Well I ‘m going back here to late 2013 to review this book , I had a quick reread of it in bits over the weekend .I decide to finally review it because Lisa had ask me to join her in doing a Shadow Jury for the DSC south asian book prize , which I said yes as I had read two this book and Mirror of beauty (longest book on the list ) , I also had Noon tide toll on my shelves and could order another from Library leaving me one book to get when Amanda gets paid in a couple of weeks just before the prize .It’s nice to be judging with Lisa and Tara  .Now why didn’t I review this book , well it wasn’t that I didnt’ like it far from it was good but not stand out enough to be saved from Mount unreviewed .I had read Lahiri before both her short story collections , I was always nervous that her style wouldn’t work on the change from short story writer  to Novelist .Anyway to the book at last

So many times Subhash and Udayan had walked across the lowland .It was a shortcut to a field on the outskirts of the neighbourhood ,where they went to play football ,Avoiding puddles and stepping over mats of hyacinth leaves that remained in place .Breathing the dank Air

From opening page that gives rise to the book’s title the Lowland ,si near where the boys grew up .

The lowland is a classic story in many ways , a story of two brothers growing up , but also growing apart as they do so .Now the two brothers Udayan and Subhash , split apart from each other  one drawn into a world of politics the other drawn into a life far away from the India they grew up in .The brother drawn to Poltics Udayan is drawn to this protest at the poverty with in the country , this is 1967 and they are just following what had happened elsewhere in the world , but will it have a lasting effect on his life and his family , to a young wife and his parents .Meanwhile his brother Subhash has left to study in the but a moment of madness means , he comes home marries his brothers now widowed wife and returns with her to America , leading to a knock on for the next generation and the parents .

He was unwell ?

He was killed .

How ?

The paramilitary shot shot him .He was a Naxalite .

I’m sorry .It’s a terrible loss to bear .But no you’ll be a father .Yes .

Listen it’s been too long ,Why don’t you and your wife come to dinner one day .

Just after he lost his brother Subhash back in the US

Well The  lowlands , takes a classic story of brothers going  on different paths in their lives  .Then throws into it a real  event from  Indian history” the Naxalite cause “and the protest around that time .Brings this vast story down to the family level and looks at how politics ,l families and loyalty to ones loved ones .I loved that Lahiri managed to capture in a novel what she does so well in her stories and that is the interpersonal relationships between people on a daily level .At the core the brothers and the way the lives diverge but also cross each other again after one event leaving one gone and another with a new life and direction .I ‘m not sure it is the winner of the prize but it deserves it place on the DSC shortlist .

Have you read this book ?

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Col
    Jan 05, 2015 @ 20:14:34

    Ive not read it but it is a book on a pile by my desk waiting to be read! Sounds like one i should get round to sooner rather than later.

    Reply

  2. Lisa Hill
    Jan 05, 2015 @ 22:00:17

    Good one, Stu, you’re amazing to be able to write a review when you read the book so long ago… if I don’t write mine fairly soon after I’ve read the book I forget too much about it because I’ve moved on to the next one.
    DSC is an interesting prize. As I understand it, it only has to be *about* South Asia, the author doesn’t have to be from there. But living or growing up there gives it authenticity, IMO.

    Reply

  3. whisperinggums
    Jan 06, 2015 @ 12:20:41

    Mount Unreviewed! Love it Stu. Like Lisa I’m impressed. I very rarely review a book I read a long time ago – and a year is a long time ago. When I do I tend to feel a little anxious that my memory will slip me up somewhere.

    Anyhow, no I haven’t read this. I’ve read two of her books – a novel and a collection of short stories – and I figure that’s a good enough coverage for me of her now.

    Reply

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