Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland depicts the lives of an Indian family told against the backdrop of a politically turbulent period in India. It focuses on two brothers who come of age in the 1950s. Their paths diverge when one of them moves to America while the other becomes progressively more embroiled in revolutionary activities in India. Lahiri’s skill in storytelling lies in weaving her narrative in such a way as to transcend the specificity of a particular family. Her characters experience the fragility and vicissitudes of life in all its challenges of violence, betrayal, love, grief, honor, and loss.
Through her poignant and beautifully told story of the Mitra family, Lahiri reminds us of some of life’s universal truths: we can never be fully removed from the historical and cultural climate which gave birth to us; the choices we make in life, even if they are made with the best of intentions, can have devastating consequences; aging consists of the slow, irreversible process of letting go; and life frequently presents us with challenges we may never fully comprehend.