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Cultural Transformation, Identity and Resistance in Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘The Lowland’

Ashutosh Singh


Jhumpa lahiri‟s The Lowland is a judicious supplement to her already popular oeuvre of fiction writing, including Pulitzer Prize winner Interpreter of Maladies (1999), The Namesake (2003) and Unaccustomed Earth (2008). The story of novel concerns two siblings, Subhash and Udayan Mitra and due to circumstances in the 1960s, they parted their ways. Subhash moves to United States for higher studies in Oceanography and settles there while his younger brother, Udayan, lives by Marxist ideology. The tumultuous political context in the wake of colonial rule in India marks the personal saga of a family deeper than in any other Lahirian fiction. Lahiri‟s plots are well planned in the backdrop of diasporic predicament of characters striving to cope up with problems of familial relationships and interconnectedness between people. She delves deeply into emotional tangles of her characters and establishes the need for reaching out in renewed emotional communication between them to resolve conflicts and problems of mutual adjustment. Portraying life of the Indian migrants to America, Lahiri has been very poignant in capturing the diasporic spirit of her characters muddled in multiple emotional tangles. However, she deals purely with emotional turmoil and subsequent isolation and guilt experienced by central characters. The narrative deals with the theme of uprooting and assimilation with efforts made to establish connectivity among the characters. The present paper first discusses the concept of identity and cultural transformation in diasporic space and then traces these issues in The Lowland which was shortlisted for Man Booker Prize 2013.

Keywords: Identity, Cultural Transformation, Naxalite, Diaspora and Third Space.

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