Published by Alfred A. Knopf and Random House, The Lowland is Jhumpa Lahiri’s second novel set in two far far away lands of West Bengal in India and Rhode Island in the United States of America. The story of two brothers who are born in Calcutta (Modern Kolkata) in the 1960’s and grow during the peak of Naxalist movement. Born in the middle class family of an Indian Railways employee, the brothers Subhash and Udayan are inseparable and share a close relationship with each other, yet they are different in their thoughts and how they see the world around them as they unfold themselves to various experiences while growing up.
Both Subhash and Udayan are academically inquisitive and fiddle with the technologies available to them especially in the form of a radio. They listen to world broadcast and closely observe things unfolding in other parts of the world like China apart from Calcutta’s Naxalbari area. While Subhash remains glued to his notions, Udayan develops a political highhandedness and begins to develop a keen interest in the militant ideologue over the years. They separate when Subhash goes to United States, irrespective of his brother’s disaproval, for further studies.
Jhumpa Lahiri’s eloquent prose is a mix of poetic and descriptive expression which clings you as soon as you start reading the book. But, somwhere in the middle loses its adhesion and hence divulgence and never gains its original momentum. The author presents one of the brother’s misguided adventures in the backdrop of huge antagonistic ideologues which the modern-liberal-america-going indians shunned and thus, shined symbolising the other brother.
The Lowland also sorrounds around the dilemma of a man between traditional notions and a will to break-free from them and how he struggles to save his family after ending up making everyone in the family unhappy. A ripple effect of a single militant act tarnishes and destroyes not only a person but, the whole world around him damaging all those close to him.