The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, A poignant read | Book Review

[Image Description: Book held open in hand, autumn leaves in background]

Image result for the lowland

Published by Random House India

Genre – Historical Fiction

Two brothers bound by tragedy; a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past; a country torn by revolution. A powerful new novel–set in both India and America–that explores the price of idealism and a love that can last long past death.

Growing up in Calcutta, born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the other. But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead of them. It is the 1960s, and Udayan–charismatic and impulsive–finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty: he will give everything, risk all, for what he believes. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother’s political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America.

But when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family’s home, he comes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family, and to heal the wounds Udayan left behind–including those seared in the heart of his brother’s wife.


My first Jhumpa Lahiri book, The Lowland had been on my ‘want to read’ shelf for years. I am so glad I finally came around to reading it.

The Lowland tells a story full of complex family relations. Whether it’s between Subhash and Udayan, the two siblings, or between parents and their children or between husband and wife.

It breaks all the usual norms of writing. Written from multiple points of views across different generations and genders, switching between present and flashbacks without any uniformity that I could notice. But it is still a brilliantly written book.

In fact, the best thing about the book in my opinion was the magnificent writing. Jhumpa Lahiri described each and every place so vividly, they all came to life. The book made me want to visit Tollygunge and Rhode Island and feel like I have been there already at the same time, and I hadn’t even heard of Tollygunge before I read the book.

The character development wasn’t the best it could have been. Subhash and Gauri (Udayan’s wife) in their 50’s and 60’s were the same as they were in their 20’s. And though I did not relate to any of the characters as such, the way they were written had me engaged throughout the story.

I really liked the ending because it ended on a happier note. I say happy, but I mean less sad than I expected. At least it wasn’t sad to me but it may be for some people. The book overall had a certain sad air to it. There were not many happy moments in the story, if any at all.

A page turner from almost the start to finish, hands down one of the best books I’ve read this year. The Lowland is a haunting read that leaves you questioning the big things in life.

My rating: 

5 Stars, mostly because of the absolutely amazing writing.

Have you read The Lowland? How did you like it? Share in the comments!



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