Damp & humid air fills my lungs every time I walk out of the airplane and onto the tarmac. It is the first and most cherished sign that I have arrived in India. I have fond memories of my childhood in India, which is probably the reason why I gravitate towards South Asian books & authors. Through these works, I have an opportunity to revisit parts of my own childhood. I hope to build a deeper connection with the land that has given me an identity and perspective different from the “Western” world. But most of all, I look to learn something new about my heritage, my culture, and the history of the land of my ancestors. And Jhumpa Lahiri has always delivered on these requests.
Lahiri’s latest work, Lowland, is a walk down memory lane with exquisite insight into the struggle of the individual and society. The attention to details is a treat! The book is an opportunity to observe the a time of great confusion and opportunity for Indians. The 1960-1970s was a time of revolution, a time of anarchy, but also a time during which this young nation arrived on the world platform. The underlying immigrant story of Lowland is similar to many immigrant stories we hear today – a young man leaves his family behind in India to attain greater education and pursue a career in America. However, she narrates a perspective we are not familiar with – the story of the family left behind, the family struggling to make their normal again, the family that has been changed forever by the opportunities and tragedies of this era. The way in which Lahiri links the lives of 6 individuals within a family and 4 generations is truly amazing.
This is a must read book for all those who enjoy an intricate story about family ties and generations, mixed with the Indian flair!