Standing there, unable to find him, she felt a new solidarity with him. The bond of not existing.
Published in 2013, The Lowland: A Novel was Jhumpa Lahiri’s fourth book after The Namesake, Interpreter of Maladies and Unaccustomed Earth.
It starts back in the sixties when inseparable brothers Subhash and Udayan part as Subhash moves to USA for studies and Udayan decides to stay in Calcutta and participate in the Naxalite movement.
In Calcutta, Udayan has a grave secret that is buried when he is killed one afternoon. However, before his death, he made his wife Gauri a party to it.
Gauri spends a lifetime guarding their secret from the rest of the world. It nauseates her, eats her up, annihilates all her relationships including the one with her daughter and leaves her alone for most of her life, but for some short flings and experiments here and there. In her self-induced solitude, she forges solidarity with her dead husband. Despite Udayan being dead since she was twenty three, she spends a good four or five decades with their lamp of love burning strong, the flame getting firmer and stronger everyday, without ever compromising their secret.
People have always raised concerns regarding Jhumpa Lahiri’s inability to describe Calcutta, calling out her citizenship. I always find these claims preposterous. Not only does she accurately describe life in Calcutta, there are even some accurate geographical and climatic descriptions at times.