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L'omonimo by Jhumpa Lahiri
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L'omonimo (original 2003; edition 2007)

by Jhumpa Lahiri

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9,524260304 (3.91)416
Member:cometahalley
Title:L'omonimo
Authors:Jhumpa Lahiri
Info:Guanda (2007), Perfect Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:letteratura indiana, India

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The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (2003)

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Bengali family — children born here — their life — trying to assimilate w/ American after they go to college — very pensive — slow feeling + words

The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged wedding, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world. Named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents in memory of a catastrophe years before, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name.
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  christinejoseph | Jul 24, 2016 |
My favorite book from this Pulitzer prize-winning author. ( )
  ChrisWay | Jul 5, 2016 |
Not the best novel I’ve ever read. I can’t really think why this should be on the 1001 list except that it was introduced from the second edition onwards to counterbalance the white-male-author predominance of the first list.

There’s nothing here that the world of fiction hasn’t seen before. V. S. Naipaul’s whole career was built on writing that explores the confusion of identity that comes from cultural displacement. He got the Nobel Prize. I don’t think Jhumpa will be shortlisted anytime soon.

For me, this was one in a series of five random reviews that see biography passed off as lightly veiled fiction. Jhumpa is, like her protagonist Gogol, the victim of parental emigration and mistaken identity by culturally short-sighted school teachers. She too was carted backwards and forward to Kolkata to see relatives she barely knew but which her parents insisted were her ‘real’ family. And it was also her who struggled to break free of these childhood tethers to establish her independent USAnian identity.

While I suppose it’s natural for writers to draw on their own life experiences both for inspiration for characters and plot as well as for the passion that drives them to want to communicate something, it certainly saves the hard work of trying to understand anyone else’s situation.

And reading more about the novel and particularly the film that was made of it, I can’t help wondering if this is simply a vehicle for self-indulgence. After all, Jhumpa not only made sure that the kitchen cabinets in the Gangulis’ kitchen were the same colour as her own family’s, something that would mean nothing to anyone but the Lahiris, but she also couldn’t resist her and other family members taking cameo roles. Hmm…

So, is this an important novel? Well, it’s readable, but I couldn’t help thinking that it was a little late in the day for a novel that focussed on issues of migration. Published in 2004, the world is a far more connected and culturally heterogenous place than it was, say, in 1976 when I was taken overseas by my parents. I’ve already referenced Naipaul’s work (Enigma of Arrival (1987) in particular), and, without much thought, Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) or Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North (1966) also come to mind.

I’ve got a feeling that this one won’t be anywhere near memorable than those for me. It seemed like an an okay novel which was readable enough but, for me, there’s something about it that makes it fall short of being important. Maybe time will prove me wrong, but for now, I just wasn’t that taken with it. ( )
  arukiyomi | Jun 5, 2016 |
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and was drawn into it complexly. 4 stars and should be on The List of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Gogol is a young man born to well educated Bengali parents who have immigrated to the United States. His mother, Ashimi, remains determined that her children will be raised in a cocoon of Bengali customs and resist anything American customs. Gogol is desperate to break free and become his own particular brand American. When his father dies unexpectedly, Gogol falls into a pattern of failed relationships. The story ends on a rather flat note when Gogol begins reading a book written by his namesake. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
A moving story which follows the lives of Indian newlyweds who emigrate to America, then the cultural and generational conflicts of their children. I learned many things about Indian culture, and overall I enjoyed the book very much. However…

Have you read people discussing the old debate “show” versus “tell”? Well, this book is ALL tell, and it got really old before I was halfway through. I felt like it stood in the way of the reader getting to know the characters.
( )
  memccauley6 | May 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 256 (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 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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