Coming to Terms with our Alienation
A Feature Review of
The Lowland: A Novel
Hardback: Knopf, 2013
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Reviewed by D.L. Mayfield
Remember that the revolution is the important thing, and that each one of us alone is worth nothing—Che Guevara, in a last letter to his children
Lahiri quotes Che near the end of her book, the long and quiet and powerful novel The Lowland. It is a shocking sentence, written by severe and resolute revolutionary, and the reader feels the sorrow of the intended recipients, the children of the soon-to-be-lost-forever father. By this time, at the end of the story of two brothers and the women in their lives, we are apt to spot the sorrow lurking everywhere. As the novel elegantly slides back and forth between perspectives, time marching on and then doubling back on itself, we slowly start to understand these basic ideologies that drive and fail the characters. Revolutionary actions are born out of the pain of inequality; duty and obligation are seen as a means to transcend the chaos of life; people become inward and closed-off, unable to count their blessing still they are almost all gone. It is a novel about separate lives, coming together and crashing apart.