When I picked up this book, The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri, it was with a mixture of awe, apprehension and determination. This was because I was about to read a book by a Pulitzer Prize winning author for the first time.(Correction there- because actually this was the second. The first being Gone with the wind, which I had read long long ago, without being conscious of it being a Pulitzer Prize winning book at that time). The Lowland was also long listed for the Man Booker Prize and these awards to my mind gave the book a superior air.But surprisingly right from page 1 to the last page (page no. 340), I remained hooked to the book and so I was compelled to write its book review as soon as possible. It is a tale that begins in Calcutta (or Kolkata) and unfolds across continents and covers 4 generations. Primarily a story of two boys who live in Calcutta during the time of the Naxalite movement. They live along with their parents in the swampy lowlands. The author beautifully describes their growing up years from school days to youth and dwells deep into their similarities and differences. The bonding between the two brothers as well as their complexes is brought to life. You remain hooked to the tale of the different paths in life on which they eventually walk; in a narration that’s fluid, gripping, and a command over language that is nonpareil. There being absolutely no clue at all as to whats coming ahead, you are curious to quickly find out and continue to flip page after page becoming a part of the whole scenario.
The characters are finely sketched to the minutest details. It is as if the lead characters, Subhash, Udayan and Gauri are living and breathing people whose lives are unfolding right before your eyes. They keep secrets from one another, but their individual thoughts, fantasies and feelings are laid thread before the reader in a brutally honest description. Revealing anything more of the story-line would in deed be a huge spoiler, so I wish to desist from that. Please read the book if my review inspires you enough.
Yes, there is some negativity in some of the characters etched. But towards the end of the book, we do see hope emerge and one character shines with his selfless and unconditional love. Needless to say , I’m now a fan of Jhumpa Lahiri ! And the next time I pick a Pulitzer Prize winning book, it will be not be with awe but a lot of excitement and expectation 🙂
P.S- My next pick is ‘To kill a mocking bird’ by Harper Lee, a 1961 Pulitzer prize winning book.