Review – The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Lowland Jhumpa LahiriTitle: The Lowland

Author: Jhumpa Lahiri

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: Sept. 2013

Genre: Contemporary ‘Literary’

Source: Christmas present

My Rating: 4.5/5

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Growing up in Calcutta, Udayan and Sabhash were as close as brothers could be, always there for one another no matter the consequence. But as they grow older and riots start all over India, Udayan becomes part of the Naxalite movement, believing that revolution is needed, and Sabhash goes to America to study at University. As they are each pulled in a different direction, the brothers lose the bond they once had. However, the choices they both make will bind them closer together than ever before, in ways neither could have predicted or wanted.

The first thing that struck me as I started reading was the writing itself; it is some of the most beautiful prose I have ever read, and for that reason alone I will be reading more of Jhumpa Lahiri’s work.  However, I feel the writing dramatically changes the tone of the book, making it more passive, which, to me, doesn’t quite match the story of action and unrest.

The book is set in both India and America and is primarily about family and identity. The story is framed around the Naxalite movement in India, a rebellion against poverty and the government. Personally, I knew nothing about this activist movement before reading The Lowland, but that didn’t affect how I saw the book as what needed to be explained was woven into the fabric of the storyline. Personally I find fiction can often be a better way of learning about historic and current societies than simply reading a textbook. In The Lowland, politics is the catalyst that sparks events in the characters lives, but overall the book is character-led. This means the reader can easily empathise with the characters, making the book a much more personal experience, even if you are like me and have no previous experience or understanding of the lives these characters live.

There are actually quite a few characters in the book as it spans over a few generations of the family. The book isn’t chronological, but there are enough clues within the writing to easily understand when and where each chapter is happening, and to whom. While written in third person, the writing jumps to different characters along with the settings, giving the reader a chance to delve deep into the minds of all of the main characters, rather than simply seeing the story from one point of view.

While it obviously isn’t a ‘happy ever after’, the book manages to avoid falling into a depressive and heavy mood and therefore is actually quite a quick read.

In general I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Lowlands and would recommend it to pretty much anyone. It will likely be best suited to those who enjoy stories that are clearly set in our current societies, those who love to learn, and those who enjoy books about family, but as I said, I believe everyone would enjoy reading this book.

 

 

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Teaser Tuesdays (20th May)

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Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

When it was finished she heard  the spoon methodically  scraping the bottom of the pan, then the water he immediately ran to make it easier to clean.  The clink of the spoon against the bowl, and at the same time, in a separate pan, the rattle of the egg he boiled and took away for his lunch.

~p.p.126 The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Musing Mondays (19th May)

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Musing Mondays, created by MizB of Should be Reading asks you to muse about one of the following each week…

• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it! 
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

I am currently reading ‘Poverty and Progress’ by B. Seebohm Rowntree. It’s a thick non-fiction book detailing Rowntree’s findings in the 1930s survey about poverty in York. I heard about the book while watching a documentary, and somehow decided to read it. Honestly I’m still not sure how I became the person who reads these sorts of things for no other reason than it sounded interesting.  But now that I’m reading it, I don’t want to stop. It can be dull in some areas, but I am still finding it interesting.  My only complaint is that it’s a very slow read, causing me to behind on my regular reading and reviewing, but I am determined to keep reading it now that I’ve started it, no matter how long it takes me (though it is a library book and there’s probably a limit on how many times I can renew it, so I should definitely get cracking).

Do you ever read non-fiction books just because?

Wondrous Words Wednesday (14th May)

ImageWondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme at Bermuda Onion’s where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

 

I’ve been meaning to join in this meme for a while, and am finally remembering to do it. Both my words this week I discovered when reading The Conduct of Life by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Phrenology – the detailed study of the shape and size of the cranium as a supposed indication of character and mental abilities.

Inosculate – to join by intertwining or fitting closely together.

Teaser Tuesdays (13th May)

So sorry for the complete lack of posts last week. If you follow my main blog, you will know I was really ill so wasn’t able to read, let alone write about reading, so I hope you’ll forgive me. Hopefully I’ll eventually be organised enough that being ill won’t affect this blog much, but for now, please bear with me.

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Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

But it is essential to  distinguish between the standard attainable and the standard attained.  The former depends upon the income of the  families and it is upon income that the classification of the families is based.

~p.p. 124 Poverty and Progress by B. Seebohm Rowntree

As I was looking for a suitable teaser to share with you, I realised just how boring this book is, especially when taken out of context. However, I’m still enjoying it as I honestly love to learn, especially about history and society which this book encompasses.