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The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

6th October 2013

If you want to know the story, read the summary at Goodreads. This post is more about the writing.

If there’s one feeling that The Lowland has left me with, it is loss. And not the kind that knocks you off your feet with forcefulness.

No.

It is slow, almost invisible at first, until halfway through the book I felt like I couldn’t breathe because of the weight of all that has happened in the world of Udayan and Subhash Mitra. Through all the twists and turns, not once is there a feeling of slamming into a speedbreaker. The beauty of this story lies in the feeling of every little action being measured, carefully, and carried out with that exact precision. This makes the consequences of every action more explosive, more devastating, and more memorable.  

The story carried me forward like gentle waves, nudging me deeper —  but quietly —  I admit, the descriptions of the political scenario went above my head, but it was easy enough to skim through them to understand just what I needed to place everything else in context. What I loved most was the quiet way in which everything comes together; a very real glimpse of how immigrants mould themselves to fit into the fabric of their adopted society. Lahiri’s writing has a beautiful rhythm that is consistent yet understated — its almost as if she knows exactly where to apply pressure (via details) and where to let go.

The characters are unpredictable, but it is easy to walk alongside them through the story. I never felt like running ahead or letting my imagination run wild by conjuring outcomes — I wanted to discover the The Lowland according to the pace they set. This, for me, is Lahiri’s biggest triumph — she never once loses you despite the quiet tone of the book.  

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