The Lowland: Engaging History and Postcoloniality

The Lowland marks a shift in Jhumpa Lahiri’s narrative art. While her previous novel and two
anthologies of short stories builtd upon themes like immigrant experience, homelessness,
rootlessness, and multiculturalism The Lowland engages contemporary history and colonial legacy in a
serious manner. Jhumpa Lahiri infuses more of the Indian than her expatriate experience. She draws
profusely from the Naxalite Movement and develops her plot through it. She discovers the sociopsychological
and personal implications of the movement and its brutal repression. At times
sounding like a contemporary historian she traces the movement and then develops her character
Udayan as a rebel. As a foil in the initial half of the novel Subhash represents post-independence
upwardly mobile middle class Indians. While subtle undertones of post-colonilaism are always there
in her previous works, they become more pronounced in The Lowland. The locale Lowland
contrasted against Golf Club articulates colonial snobbery. Rebellious Udayan is eliminated showing
a continuum of colonial tactics through police attrocities. While venturing into such humdrum of
life and history Lahiri returns to the theme of sad families and disturbances within marriage. The
first half of the novel and its psychological and domestic implications woven with dexterity certainly
marks a shift in Jhumpa Lahiri’s narrative art.


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