Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lost Generation

The Lowland
By Jhumpa Lahiri

There is a certain method to Jhumpa Lahiri's works - ordinary people under ordinary circumstances reacting in extraordinary ways to create their own path. We saw it in The Namesake and now we see that method applied in The Lowland, her latest work. A story that encompasses an entire generation through four lives, gobbled up by the Naxalite movement in West Bengal and self-discovery in distant Rhode Island. Of course, this dual setting is typical of Lahiri's works.

Once again, Lahiri left me mesmerized by her brutally honest discussion of the one thing that Indians love about America - a society that lets you be, one that does not judge you. Perhaps it is a consequence of living in such a sparsely populated land, where you really have only yourself to depend on, but she puts it well when she says, "...in this minute corner of the world, I discovered myself."

The problem with this book however is that it seems to have been written without much thought. The story lurches ahead without direction, at times making it feel that the writer just added to it to make it longer instead of just cutting to the chase. This is a serious issue that undermines the novel, especially given the wonderful ability to express ideas in short stories that the author demonstrated in Unaccustomed Earth. Still, as a story of a generation, The Lowland does well. 

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