Women writers on woman characters..The Lowland

“In exchange for all you have done for me, I leave Bela to you.”

Gauri, wife of Subhash, in a letter informing him

that she has got a job in the west coast,

and is leaving him and her daughter.

The April 2015, book discussion on reading –The Lowland- from a viewpoint of the female characters –Bijoli-the mother-of Udayan-Subhash, Gauri –the daughter in law of the Mitras-two times over, Bela-the daughter ,Dr.Grant the counselor of Bela, Lorna –the student of Gauri who unraveled her in many ways, Elise Silva- whom Subhash eventully marries.



Growing up in Calcutta, born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the other. But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead of them. It is the 1960s, and Udayan–charismatic and impulsive–finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty: he will give everything, risk all, for what he believes. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother’s political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America.

But when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family’s home, he comes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family, and to heal the wounds Udayan left behind–including those seared in the heart of his brother’s wife.



In her essay – When we Dead Awaken:Writing as Re-vision (1971) Adrienne Rich writes

“An important insight of the radical women’s movement has been how divisive and how ultimately destructive is this myth of the special woman, who is also the token woman.”

In her essay, Rich writes that no male writer has written primarily or even largely for women, or with the sense of women’s criticism as a consideration when he chooses his materials, his theme, his language. But to a lesser or greater extent, every woman writer has written for men even when, like Virginia Woolf, she was supposed to be addressing women. Rich writes about re-reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (1929) and senses the tone, a tone of a woman almost in touch with her anger, who is determined not to appear angry.


Support...Art Institute of Chicago
Support…Art Institute of Chicago-                 2009 Dec

The discussion on the contours of life  of women described by Lahiri, who many regard as one of the great living writers made us consider immigration, parenting and legacy in many interesting ways, in the context of Everyday life.

The novel courses through the Calcutta of 1970s to contemporary North American society 2010s.  Discussing the points – about isolation and loss, one can summarize through the words of Rich-who re-looked at life in 1950s US

“Life was extremely private; women were isolated from each other by the loyalties of marriage. I have a sense that women didn’t talk to each other much in the fifties- not about their secret emptinesses, their frustrations.”


The Guardian review –points to –A temporary matter- from the Pulitzer price winning collection of short stories- (Interpreter of Maladies) in which the revealing of painful secrets, following a domestic tragedy, enables a young woman to tell her husband (an ineffectual young academic like Subhash) that she is moving out. It prefigures, in miniature, the domestic plot of The Lowland, but it uses trauma and disclosure with an incomparably more subtle, liberating and regenerative power.

VIDEO DISCUSSIONS..Then we reviewed some discussions on Realistic characters, destabilizing events, in some works of Lahiri- from Unaccustomed Earth, Namesake


Namesake…here one can compare between the movie adaptation by Mira Nair and see the differences from the novel


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