Book Review – The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

lowlandcover

Well, I reckon I expected too much. Innumerable awards, such wonderful reviews; i thought this would be a masterpiece. It’s not bad by any means, but much worse than expectations. In certain places, descriptions are excessive, and in others, they are conspicuous by its absence. Hitherto I’d never perused a literary fiction novel; perhaps, that’s why I found it awkward. Moreover, I thought the language would be top-notch and I’d learn oodles of new, exciting words, but sadly, the vocabulary is no better than a colloquial Indian novel, maybe a trifle better occasionally. Its an extremely sad novel, I must admit; there’s not even a solitary attempt at humor; none, whatsoever! The character, Gauri, is extremely negative and dreadfully irritating. Its inexplicable why she despises Bela so much! I’m not the biggest fan of politics either. Perhaps, that’s why certain portions of the story bored me. I was not too impressed by the ending either, too predictable!

Withal, I’m unaware if its a customary narrative style in the literary fiction genre, but there is no exclusivity of events in the narration – as if all events are embedded in the narration. After providing a background, an event occurring in the present should happen then and there. Suddenly in the narration, the author says “One fine day this happened, that happened”. Instead, the context of that day, the environment of the current location, should be described after the background, and thereafter the event should be narrated exclusively.

FOR EXAMPLE

The style which I find normal:

Lately, inexplicably, Bela had changed. She’d metamorphosed from a cheerful girl to a cold woman.

It was a dark, muggy day. An invigorating breeze swept in through the semi-closed window. Subhash was perched in his bed, scanning a newspaper. Bela emerged from her room and started lambasting him.

Dialogues

Jhumpa Lahiri’s style:

Lately, inexplicably, Bela had changed. She’d metamorphosed from a cheerful girl to a cold woman. One day, Subhash was perched in his bed, scanning a newspaper. Bela emerged from her room and started lambasting him.

Dialogues

Jhumpa Lahiri is a legend, and I’m no-one to criticize, but I personally didn’t savor this type of narration.

Additionally, I thought only Indian authors over-describe intimate scenes, but even Jhumpa Lahiri describes such scenes elaborately, and sometimes, I felt disgusted and nauseous post reading extremely private experiences which are totally avoidable and unnecessary.

However, the narration, apart from the aforementioned lack of event exclusivity which is merely my personal opinion, is brilliant. Characterization is top-class, worth emulating, adoring, and learning. The story is profound, dark, and captivating. The emotional and aggressive interaction of Bela with Gauri towards the end was mind-blowing! If humor and sarcasm was employed more, the dullness factor would have diminished. Withal, I’d expected at-least a trifle more flowery language from a bestselling literary fiction author. Nevertheless, a good novel. 3.2 stars from a budding author.

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