The Lowland

Jhumpa Lahiri

Book cover

I finished this quite a while ago now, but I think it’s good I gave it a chance to “settle in” to my mind a little bit. When I first finished it, I was feeling like it was a five-star book, but by now it feels more like a four–it hasn’t remained a strong presence in my mind the way a really good book would.

That said, I like Jhumpa Lahiri a lot, and I liked this book a lot. The protagonist, Subhash, is a very believable and likable character. One way in which the book is unusual is that it follows him through his entire life, from child to old man. I think this is a hard thing to pull off in a novel, and JL did it really well–Subhash’s life seems to have an organic progression, the conflicts he encounters at each stage of his life all seem meaningful and believable, and each of them helps us see his development as a person.

“The Lowland” is also nice because it has some really powerful scenes of healing of emotional conflicts and damages. A lot of what JL writes is sad, and I’m OK with that. And certainly all of the rifts that form over the course of this book do not heal. But this book almost made me cry, in a good way, while I was riding the AC Transit bus one day.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars