When 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….
Buy it now The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri