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

by Jhumpa Lahiri

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8,697None347 (3.91)364
Member:Boobalack
Title:The Namesake: A Novel
Authors:Jhumpa Lahiri
Info:Mariner Books (2004), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 291 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:Fiction, East Indian Americans, Assimilation, Immigrants, Read

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The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (2003)

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English (221)  Norwegian (1)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  Japanese (1)  All languages (225)
Showing 1-5 of 221 (next | show all)
Interesting first- and second-generation accounts of the Indian-American immigrant experience. I was about three-quarters of the way through when I finally put my finger on what seemed odd about it: there's very little dialogue. I kept anticipating the narrative to lead to a point where the story would pick up in a more dialogue-driven character interactive way, but it never did. Despite this vaguely disconcerting realization late in the book, I still enjoyed it. I like her prose; it's plain and to the point, but vivid. ( )
  S.D. | Apr 5, 2014 |
Really enjoyed the book.

Very interesting characters, Ashima, Gogol, Moushumi.
A nice transition of the story from Ashima's point of view to Gogol's and then to Moushumi's and back. Wonderful descriptions.

Another book where I was imagining everything happening in front of me while I was reading it. ( )
  maheswaranm | Mar 20, 2014 |
So, what is in a name anyway? Quite a lot, apparently, if we are to judge from the life of Gogol Ganguli, the central character in Jhumpa Lahiri’s quietly affecting novel The Namesake. The first child of Ashoke and Ashima, a Bengali couple whose arranged marriage shortly preceded their immigration to the United States, Gogol is named through a series of missteps for a Russian author who has particular significance to his father. As a child, Gogol’s identity is so completely tied to that name that he resists changing it to the one his parents actually intended for him. Only later does his embarrassment at having such an unusual moniker reach the point where he changes it against his family’s wishes to something that he feels will allow him to forge his own path in the world.

This is a story that explores many themes connected with the ties that bind people together, including the love, the commitment, and even the estrangements and betrayals that define all personal relationships. While Ashoke and Ashima find themselves caught between two cultures as they make a new life for themselves in a strange land, Gogol and his younger sister Sonia are very much products of the American society, which is the only one they really know. Lahiri’s prose throughout the book is restrained but insightful; she captures beautifully the joys and tensions that exist between all parents and children, while giving the reader a glimpse into some unique aspects of an Indian upbringing. She is a talented writer who has a lot to say about a subject that, though seemingly foreign in certain details, is ultimately universal. ( )
  browner56 | Mar 1, 2014 |
Lahiri's novel is a beautifully written immigrant tale that brings to mind other favorites, such as Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club and Chimamanda Adichie's Americanah.

For high school teachers, this book offers a number of excellent opportunities for learning: have students read Nikolai Gogol's "The Overcoat," and discuss how each text lends meaning to the other. View Mira Nair's adaptation and do a comparison study.

Gogol's quest for identity is one that most teens and young adults can relate to, regardless of their cultural background or experience. ( )
  sbucker1 | Feb 22, 2014 |
Passive writing: I haven't read all the other reviews, so I may be repeating what others have said. The plot of this story is interesting, as are the characters. However, the author's writing style creates such a distance between the reader and the story that it's hard to get too connected to it. The story is mostly narrative, with very little conversation. Not much seems to happen directly, it is all told in the passive voice. This makes it really hard to feel for the characters. I would've liked this book much more if the writing style were different.
  lonepalm | Feb 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 221 (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'
Dedication
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:20 -0400)

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This is the incredible bestselling first novel from Pulitzer Prize winning author, Jhumpa Lahiri.

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