The Namesake is the story of a boy brought up Indian in America, from 'the kind of writer who makes you want to grab the next person and say "Read this!"' (AMY TAN)Gogol Ganguli is headed to paradise, a place of satisfaction and fulfilment. He doesn't really know it as he travels through his life toward this destination. He is only aware that he ...
The Namesake is the story of a boy brought up Indian in America, from 'the kind of writer who makes you want to grab the next person and say "Read this!"' (AMY TAN)Gogol Ganguli is headed to paradise, a place of satisfaction and fulfilment. He doesn't really know it as he travels through his life toward this destination. He is only aware that he is not quite at ease with himself, and for a long time he thinks it's all because of his name...His journey begins by train. But Gogol is not on it. Rather it was a train whose fateful journey gave his father, Ashoke Ganguli -- a Bengali in America, awkward in his new surroundings -- both a brush with mortality and the name of his firstborn son. Brought up as an Indian in suburban America, Gogol finds himself itching to cast off the inherited values and priorities that his parents drape over him. He escapes into Education and is educated above all in new ways of living, new ways of making a family, new ways of being married. He is shown a perfect home, then -- to his delight and surprise -- invited in to it, for good. But still he wears that Russian's name, still he is an Indian in America, and, once you get to the furthest point there, there's nowhere else to go but back. In The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri presents her reader with the entirely satisfying novel that those who loved the clarity, sympathy and grace of her prize-winning debut, the story collection Interpreter of Maladies, longed for and anticipated. It is a triumph of humane story-telling.
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An intelligent and empathetic look at transcultural family life, Indian values and its tensions, and the search for roots by a writer formed by such things (India, UK and US). Wonderful character portrayals, a delightful read that may broaden your cultural awareness as it did mine.
Jul 15, 2008
I loved this story for the way it portrayed both the ordinary and the extraordinary experiences of the characters' lives. The way she wove the stories of Ashoke and Ashima together with the stories of their children was also very beautiful giving you a perspective most readers will probably share - that of a child and that of a parent - having been the one and become the other. Certain parts of the story broke my heart and other parts felt like small triumphs, but all told the story just felt very real. My life, as a suburban wife and mother living 3 miles from where a grew up with a Western European background and not even possessing a passport, is continually enriched by authors such as Lahiri who share something that, to me, is a world away.
Jan 22, 2008
the way she wrote the book will make you feel how each of the characters felt in different situations there is a beautiful connection between the reader and the characters she did a wonderful job
Jun 22, 2007
Culturally Revealing and Poignant
Jhumpa Lahiri's novel The Namesake is a powerfully told story of cultures merging. It is also a riveting coming-of-age story of a boy who grows into his name. Definitely a worthwhile book!
Apr 26, 2007
This book is a wonderful read! I read it for my book club in February. I would recommend this to everyone!
Publishers Weekly, 2004-01-05 This recording features a spare, elegant reading by Choudhury of a story about identity, cultural assimilation and the burden of the past. Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli move from Calcutta to Cambridge, Mass., where they have a son who ends up being tagged with the strange name of Gogol. How he gets the name serves as an important theme as he deals with it and his heritage. The fact that Choudhury herself is half Indian aids her narration, as characters with that country's accent abound here. But much more important to this project is her lovely, mellifluous voice and even tone, which complements the text's own lush imagery. Perhaps owing to her English pronunciation, she is also adept at putting a polished spin on the voices of the upper-crust Manhattanites with whom Gogol becomes intertwined for a while. With such an excellent narrator, the recording neither needs nor includes much in the way of musical embellishment. The book itself makes several jumps in time and occasionally seems disjointed, but this production is a treat for the sheer combination of Lahiri's striking, often enchanting descriptions and Choudhury's graceful rendering of them. Simultaneous release with the Houghton Mifflin hardcover (Forecasts, July 7). (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2003-07-07 One of the most anticipated books of the year, Lahiri's first novel (after 1999's Pulitzer Prize-winning Interpreter of Maladies) amounts to less than the sum of its parts. Hopscotching across 25 years, it begins when newlyweds Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli emigrate to Cambridge, Mass., in 1968, where Ashima immediately gives birth to a son, Gogol-a pet name that becomes permanent when his formal name, traditionally bestowed by the maternal grandmother, is posted in a letter from India, but lost in transit. Ashoke becomes a professor of engineering, but Ashima has a harder time assimilating, unwilling to give up her ties to India. A leap ahead to the '80s finds the teenage Gogol ashamed of his Indian heritage and his unusual name, which he sheds as he moves on to college at Yale and graduate school at Columbia, legally changing it to Nikhil. In one of the most telling chapters, Gogol moves into the home of a family of wealthy Manhattan WASPs and is initiated into a lifestyle idealized in Ralph Lauren ads. Here, Lahiri demonstrates her considerable powers of perception and her ability to convey the discomfort of feeling "other" in a world many would aspire to inhabit. After the death of Gogol's father interrupts this interlude, Lahiri again jumps ahead a year, quickly moving Gogol into marriage, divorce and a role as a dutiful if a bit guilt-stricken son. This small summary demonstrates what is most flawed about the novel: jarring pacing that leaves too many emotional voids between chapters. Lahiri offers a number of beautiful and moving tableaus, but these fail to coalesce into something more than a modest family saga. By any other writer, this would be hailed as a promising debut, but it fails to clear the exceedingly high bar set by her previous work. Agent, Eric Simonoff. (Sept. 16) Forecast: Lahiri's previous collection is beloved by booksellers and readers alike, and despite the likely lukewarm reviews, orders and sales are sure to soar for this one. Lahiri, who appeared awkward working the crowd at BEA, may take some time to warm up to audiences on the road. Foreign rights sold in 12 countries. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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