ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Reading of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland

The Self and the Political

Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland can be read as a narrative about what life could be in the absence of the ideological movements of the 1960s and the 1970s shaping the personal (and the political). This review aims to read the novel in particular as a comment on the psychology of the hyper-individualistic self emerging in the post-ideological era and its likely implications for democratic politics.

Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest novel The Lowland has an epoch-defining ambition. It is, in fact, an end of the era novel. Aroused by the description on the flap and the list of citations at the end of the book referring to Naxalbari movement, I started reading the book expecting some kind of affective, perhaps an existential, take on Naxalism. One of the central characters’ involvement with the Naxalbari movement does provide an anchor to the unfolding life stories of the rest of the characters, however, I want to argue below that the novel is only suggestively about Naxalism. The novel, in fact, can be read as a narrative about what life could be in the absence of the ideological movements of the 1960s and the 1970s shaping the personal (and the political). I particularly aim to read it as a comment on the psychology of the hyper-individualistic self emerging in the post-ideological era and its likely implications for the democratic politics.

Story of Isolated Lives

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