The Lowland

Two Cities, Two Countries, Two Brothers, Two ways of life, Four generations, a woman and a tormented family… The story of ‘The Lowland’ can be explained in the simple sentence. But as simple as it looks and reads, the story has a deeper meaning.

Lowland refers to the flat area near a river’s estuary, flooded with water during high tide or heavy rains. A land mass where the river can change its course anytime. The story starts in one such lowland, near Kolkata in Tollygunge. It’s 1950s. Two brothers, Subhash and Udayan Mitra, live nearby. Both were raised together. They looked similar but they were destined to lead life in different ways. The ideological differences slowly drift them apart yet a strong bond remains.  In 1960s and 70s, Bengal was a hotbed of communist and Naxalbari movement which shattered the Mitra Family. 

It’s about duality of situations, just like the two ponds mentioned in the novel- many a times you come across two different things which sometimes merge with each other to become one.

Subhash’s life in US, the comparison between the two countries, Gauri’s love for Udayan which has moulded her personality, her decisions, events  that unfold in the next five decades, changing relationships… there is so much to take in. The gripping tale also makes you think.

Like Most of Jhumpa Lahiri’s stories, this novel too portrays the life of immigrants. But here, things happen on the backdrop of Naxalbari Movement. In the course of novel, you come across the details of the early naxalite movement and the comparison with today’s reality is inevitable.

A generation of Indians wanting to make a change, a revolution that lost it’s way, the deep impact of a tragedy leaves you on the edge.

Time goes by, memories forgotten, city spreads away slowly taking in the lowland… Something like this happens around us all the time. Perhaps that’s what I liked about this book.. 

– Janhavee Moole