Published on September 30th, 20130
Randy Boyagoda VS The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
“The story seems too often like an extended occasion for the writer’s artful displays (not that they’re always that artful). At breakfast, Subhash watches “tiny ants arriving to haul away the crumbs”; while listening to his new wife use the bathroom, “He held his body still as the stream of her urine fell”. A boy doesn’t learn to swim, he’s taught “not to fear the water”. Gauri never simply becomes aroused, she experiences “a damp release between her legs”. She can’t just kiss someone, she has to encounter “the softness of kisses”. The writing in The Lowland is everywhere ostentatiously quiet, extravagantly precise, distractingly ceremonial, at least when it’s not cloyingly precious.
Banal profundities add to the novel’s manqué gravitas.”