Review: The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

thelowlandWhen I first read “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri, I was amazed at her ability to tell a story. It was a collection of short stories and I felt as if I was there in every story. The characters came to life for me. I was amazed at her ability to make me feel as if was right there….I not only clearly heard the characters voices, I also felt what they were feeling, I touched what they touched….as someone that doesn’t really enjoy shorts that much, it was a totally new experience for me. I couldn’t believe the depth that she gave to the characters….This is my first novel by Lahiri for me. I have a much different reaction.

I loved this story. I thought the novel was made up of great characters as well. Here we have two very close brothers that grow up in Calcutta. One stays. One moves to America. They both get married. They both have a daughter. Seems simple enough, right? Wrong. This is a complicated story. It is filled with revolutionary ideas. With rebellion. With lies. With resentment. With misplaced loyalties. With guilt. With desertion. With helplessness. With secrets. However, it also has deep love. It has redemption. It has acceptance. It has hope. It has new beginnings.

This is the type of story I absolutely love. Rooted deep in culture. Blending of new cultures. Complicated family dynamics. Self sacrifice. However…it just fell flat for me.

I can’t explain how frustrated I am with this novel. I mean, Lahiri has this amazing ability to make me feel so much in the collection of short stories, and yet, here, we have a full length novel and a chance for me to really connect with a great group of characters and….well….it just doesn’t happen.

In Maladies, I felt that I was part of the story…that’s how wonderful Lahiri’s story-telling abilities were….In The Lowland I felt as if I was reading this novel through several layers of barbed-wire. That I was forced to remain apart from the characters. As much as I truly desired to be drawn it…well…It just never happened. I was made to keep my distance.

I know what Lahiri is capable of. I know I should have loved this book….ever single thing needed was there….but for some reason it just didn’t happen….I just couldn’t connect with any of them. It’s like that one tiny piece I needed to connect and to see inside the characters was missing…or misplaced….and I just didn’t feel as if the characters were whole….I didn’t just feel this way with one character…I honestly felt that way about every single one of them….

I am so disappointed…..

Until next time….

Urania xx

Buy it now The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Review: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

maladiesFirst I need to tell you guys something….are you ready for my confession? Okay, here goes….I am not a fan of short stories. After Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature this past week, I figured it was time that I downloaded one of her books to try it. See, I am not so set in my ways that I can’t try something I know I probably won’t like….so that brings me to this book….I had some stuff going on this past weekend, so in a haste to pick out a book, I picked out a short book that I’ve had on my kindle for a while….I had been wanting to try Lahiri for a while as well….Since she is up for the Man Booker Prize, I thought this would be a good time to try her…..

How does all this fit in together? Well, I am the type that rarely reads book descriptions….Soooooo….imagine my surprise of finding out that this book was a collection of short stories! What!!!!!!!!!!!! I hate short stories! Sure, I was willing to try Munro…but NOT now….I was gonna put it off for months….I….don’t…….shorts!!!!!!

Seriously, I couldn’t be bothered to try to pick out another book from the hundreds I have on my kindle…it was after 10 pm. I was tried, darn it…..So, I went ahead and started to read….imagine my surprise…..I was hooked from page one….not just from the first story…but from every single one! I have to say, I take back every bad thing I have ever mumbled about short stories….these were brilliant.

I am telling you now….don’t be an arse like me….Don’t tell yourself that you never read “____?____”. Ask yourself….what do you read? Do you usually read thriller books? Romance? Mysteries? Non-fiction? Okay….for the sake of argument, let’s say you read only romance.

So, tell me….the last romance you read….was it brilliant? Did it suck? Was it just okay? Boring? Exciting? Okay, the one before that? And yes, before that?

Do you see my point? Oh, come on now…don’t make me write it out! Okay….you win….here goes….

Not every book you read it guaranteed to be brilliant. Not even if it’s from a genre you absolutely love. Same goes for your favorite author. One day, they might disappoint you….You might have loved every book they have ever penned, but maybe one day you won’t.

This book has taught me a great lesson….I will try very hard to stop judging books by their genre. I mean, I don’t like non fiction, but there are a couple of non fiction books that are some of the best books I’ve ever read. I don’t like fantasy, but a few of my all time favorites are just that! The same with romance….Do you see my point here?

So I can tell you right now…with great confidence….a great story is a great story! No matter the genre it is told in. In these short 200 pages, Jhumpa Lahiri gives us 9 great stories. It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite. Do the few short pages they take up encompass a massive story? Do they have a beginning, a middle and an ending? Maybe not….but what they do have is some uncanny ability to draw you into the characters lives and make you feel for them. You feel their loneliness. You feel their pain. You feel their emotions. You relate to them. You spend a short moment of time with them and you feel as if their lives matter to you. You care about them. Finally, long after their pages end, you still think of them and you wonder how they are…so I am telling you right now…if you say a short story can’t encompass a massive story…well it’s like saying one short life doesn’t matter when you look at someone who has led a long life. That’s just bullshit. These stories matter. Short or not, they really matter…

I simply can not wait to try another one of Lahiri’s books. I won’t even mind if it’s *only* a collection of short stories….and seriously….I no longer hate short stories anyway….so who cares if they are a collection of shorts…hell, I almost hope they are!

Until next time….

– Urania xx

Buy it now Interpreter of Maladies