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The Namesake: A Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake: A Novel (original 2003; edition 2004)

by Jhumpa Lahiri

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9,211244325 (3.91)400
Title:The Namesake: A Novel
Authors:Jhumpa Lahiri
Info:Mariner Books (2004), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 291 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fiction, East Indian Americans, Assimilation, Immigrants, Read

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The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (2003)


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Showing 1-5 of 238 (next | show all)
Well....I did enjoy this book fairly well. I feel 3 1/2 stars would be more how I felt. There was not a lot of character development and I felt it was a little bit like reading a narrative of someone's life looking from the outside in. The author is a beautiful writer however, which is the saving grace of this book. ( )
  AR_bookbird | Nov 20, 2015 |
Author Lahiri really illuminates the experience of the main characters being adrift in the modern world, Bengali Indians in suburban America, not being able to feel at home even after more than a quarter century. Gogol Ganguli, the book's central character, struggles so much with the oddness of his name, that he even changes it as soon as he is off to college, reinventing himself anew. I love how naming people and things is a central metaphor throughout the book, about culturally belonging, or not, about transforming ourselves, or not. Lahiri's gentle handling of Gogol's mother and father's perspectives, as well as Moushimi, a character in the later part of the book, and their development really added to the story for me. The person who was kind of faceless and missing from the story was Gogol's sister, who was always there, but never really described. I haven't read such a good fictional account about being an immigrant to a western nation in a long time. ( )
  cjazzlee | Nov 13, 2015 |
I don't like epics, but this really was enjoyable. I connected very deeply because of the pet name vs good name concept. The fact that this is legitimate in another culture spoke volumes to my own experience. I don't know why she spent so much time on his love life, developing characters only to throw them (his lovers) away. And of course the father-son bit was under-developed, could have tied that back to the name in so many ways. ( )
  Victor_A_Davis | Sep 18, 2015 |
Jhumpa Lahiri is God. *bows down in reverence*

Next up, in all probability, will be Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry. ( )
  supercoldd | Aug 27, 2015 |
The rich descriptions are this book's blessing and curse. On the one hand, this book has sent me to my own draft to examine how I can better describe my characters and settings. On the other hand, the book is heavy on detail and short on story. I still feel as though I don't know these characters very well. ( )
  Nadine_Feldman | Aug 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 238 (next | show all)
Jhumpa Lahiri's quietly dazzling new novel, ''The Namesake,'' is that rare thing: an intimate, closely observed family portrait that effortlessly and discreetly unfolds to disclose a capacious social vision.
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The reader should realize himself that it could not have happened otherwise, and that to give him any other name was quite out of the question.
        -- Nikolai Gogol, 'The Overcoat'
For Alberto and Octavio,
whom I call by other names
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On a sticky August evening two weeks before her due date, Ashima Ganguli stands in the kitchen of a Central Square apartment, combining Rice Krispies and Planters peanuts and chopped red onion in a bowl.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0618485228, Paperback)

Any talk of The Namesake--Jhumpa Lahiri's follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning debut, Interpreter of Maladies--must begin with a name: Gogol Ganguli. Born to an Indian academic and his wife, Gogol is afflicted from birth with a name that is neither Indian nor American nor even really a first name at all. He is given the name by his father who, before he came to America to study at MIT, was almost killed in a train wreck in India. Rescuers caught sight of the volume of Nikolai Gogol's short stories that he held, and hauled him from the train. Ashoke gives his American-born son the name as a kind of placeholder, and the awkward thing sticks.

Awkwardness is Gogol's birthright. He grows up a bright American boy, goes to Yale, has pretty girlfriends, becomes a successful architect, but like many second-generation immigrants, he can never quite find his place in the world. There's a lovely section where he dates a wealthy, cultured young Manhattan woman who lives with her charming parents. They fold Gogol into their easy, elegant life, but even here he can find no peace and he breaks off the relationship. His mother finally sets him up on a blind date with the daughter of a Bengali friend, and Gogol thinks he has found his match. Moushumi, like Gogol, is at odds with the Indian-American world she inhabits. She has found, however, a circuitous escape: "At Brown, her rebellion had been academic ... she'd pursued a double major in French. Immersing herself in a third language, a third culture, had been her refuge--she approached French, unlike things American or Indian, without guilt, or misgiving, or expectation of any kind." Lahiri documents these quiet rebellions and random longings with great sensitivity. There's no cleverness or showing-off in The Namesake, just beautifully confident storytelling. Gogol's story is neither comedy nor tragedy; it's simply that ordinary, hard-to-get-down-on-paper commodity: real life. --Claire Dederer

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:11 -0400)

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A young man born of Indian parents in America struggles with issues of identity from his teens to his thirties.

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