Jhumpa Lahiri writes about displaced people. She writes about misplaced people. She writes about India, more specifically Calcutta. She writes about being a migrant in a developed nation. She writes about the quandaries at home. She writes about the freedom but rootless-ness abroad. A lot of her writing resonates with me. Maybe because I was in Cal for quite a while, maybe because I am a migrant at the moment. JL writes about human bonds. Bonds that add meaning to existence, bonds that suffocate. This book starts as the story of 2 brothers 15 months apart. They are veritable dopplegangers. As they grow they evolve. Subhash is the composed, measured one while Udayan is the passionate, impulsive idealist. They branch and embrace other characters. Gauri the strong willed, cerebral lady is thus introduced. The changes she impacts are far reaching. Unprecedented.
The characters are strong. As a reader I was at no point sitting on the fence. I knew who I was rooting for and who I to use a mild term 'did not like'. Apart from the characters and the peep into their psyche, the book was like time travel. Not jerky. But smooth. Fluid. It spanned 4 generations and when each was presented it was like a different view after the bend in a river. It was like seeing the same thing in a different perspective each time. It was like being in a carousel and the same thing seeming different after a turn.
I loved the way she has expressed some very real and likely situations. The part where she narrates a character dealing with insomnia made me feel so frustrated and helpless. The bereavement felt by another pulled my heart strings. Anger, reticence, despair - each page is drenched in a variety of emotions.
The book is a journey. The book is an emotional unfolding. The book is a sheer masterpiece.