The Lowland (Lahiri)

There are two things I shouldn’t do. The first is read excerpts of forthcoming novels in the New Yorker as I did with this book. But when Lahiri’s name is anywhere in that magazine, I can’t stay away. The other thing I shouldn’t do (ironically enough) is read reviews before I read books that I know I’m going to read anyway. They just keep things present in my mind that I may or may not have noticed on my own.

The Lowland is an amazingly well-constructed book – not in any overt, mechanical way – but in a subtle way that nods at you, glides at you, much like Lahiri’s writing does. I’ve been trying to think of the right way to describe Lahiri’s writing – or at least its impact on me. It almost reads as non-fiction, as though you are simply reading truth. These are these people, and these are their lives.

For me, this is a story as much about two brothers and as much about the immigrant experience as it is about time. Whether it’s her verb tenses or the name of a character, notions of the past and the present occupy the minds of Lahiri’s richly drawn characters. There is, inevitably, a sense of the future, but that which ties us to the past ebbs away (to borrow an image from Lahiri); it does not disappear.

I will need some time to mull over the final image of the book, the simplicity of it, the hope or the despair.

The only other thing I shouldn’t do? Read so fast. Now I have to wait for the next one.


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