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Great Book Club Choice: The Lowland



The Lowland

by Jhumpa Lahiri

This book comes fully loaded with some very big themes such as loss, reconciliation, resignation, adaptation, forgiveness, abandonment, revolution, tradition and individual responsibility.  There is a lot to discuss and I can’t get into detail without giving away the plot. 

In general terms, this is the story of an Indian family who live during interesting times, beginning in India and ending in the U.S.  They undergo trials, which include violence, separation and death.  They also overcome many obstacles during the course of the narrative, showing proof of great resilience and tenacity.

In the beginning, the focus is on two brothers who are very close in age, but vastly different in temperament.  The author explores the roles we take on in our families, which are sometimes very difficult to shake off.  Perhaps, in your own family, you are the smart one, the brave one or the funny one.  Perhaps you have outgrown these labels, but have found that your family is not ready to let them go.  Often, these roles are assigned early, before the individual has a chance to develop.  They become constricting and the only way to loosen the chains may be to leave altogether. The two brothers struggle with this, each finding his own solution.

In the end, we learn that things are not as they seem and our allegiances to the characters shift. In this tale, there are no clear-cut heroes or villains.  There is a lot of grey area to explore, complete with a sliding scale of morality and responsibility towards others and ourselves.  The themes are complex and take time to process.

Though the mood is melancholy, on the whole it balances out into a thoughtful narrative about people who elicit great sympathy on the part of the reader.  In some cases, they may also elicit great enmity, but that depends on your point of view. 

Great book club selection! There is a lot to talk about and people will have strong opinions about the actions of certain characters.



The Lowland by sonja_library