The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri – A Review
The relationship of brothers is something much deeper than others, who do not have that bond, can imagine. In The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri explores this deep relationship through young childhood to adulthood. She brings us from India to the United States and back again. We see through the expert writing of Lahiri the uprising of the 1960s and 70s and the diverging paths of the two brothers Subhash and Udayan.
Udayan is the younger brother and very adventurous, he does not abide by the rules and likes the controversy. Udayan is pulled in by a militant group and goes widely against the traditions he was raised on. He chooses his own wife instead of letting his family arrange the marriage. As the story continues to unfold, tragedy happens and older brother Subhash needs to step up and save the situation.
Subhash is older and perpetually trying to please those around him. He goes to America to attend school and immerse himself in life there. As tragedy hits his home and his brother, Subhash feels obliged to take control. Subhash marries his brother’s widow who is pregnant; they go on to struggle through the life that neither of them expected. Subhash always feeling like he is in the shadow of his more outgoing younger brother and Gauri, the wife, feeling like she did not get the marriage or man she dreamed of.
The story follows the characters for many years and the emotions that run from sweet to scary. Lahiri writes a story of endurance and of what we as people will endure for each other. The writing is poetic and inspiring with an in-depth description of the characters and their surroundings. Exotic India during this time period is explained with just enough description and not so much that you feel overwhelmed. The politics and social aspects of the world at this time are explained enough for us to understand, but not so much that we get bored.
The Lowlan is reserved in its descriptions, but in a way that an elite model might be reserved as she walks down the street. We can see the beauty underneath and the exquisite motion of the story with each new sentence. Lahiri pulls the characters together from many different environments and time periods with such ease that it is hard to imagine being able to read this story written by anyone else than Lahiri. Repentance, forgiveness and love are all compiled into this story.