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The Namesake (2003)

by Jhumpa Lahiri

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
11,109292446 (3.91)1 / 467
A young man born of Indian parents in America struggles with issues of identity from his teens to his thirties.
  1. 40
    Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (reenum)
  2. 30
    Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (reenum)
  3. 00
    The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant (beyondthefourthwall)
    beyondthefourthwall: Bostonian immigrants' kids work to find places for themselves. Lahiri's novel is the more bittersweet, but both are full of interesting characters and fascinating details.
  4. 00
    Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  5. 00
    A Long Way Home: A Memoir by Saroo Brierley (beyondthefourthwall)
    beyondthefourthwall: One is fictional and one not, but in both cases, young men of Indian descent grow up in the English-speaking Western world, all the while considering their roots. Also, impactful events on trains.
  6. 01
    The Idiot by Elif Batuman (beyondthefourthwall)
    beyondthefourthwall: Children-of-immigrants growing up in the United States and figuring out where they belong.

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» See also 467 mentions

English (287)  Norwegian (1)  Dutch (1)  Japanese (1)  Finnish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (292)
Showing 1-5 of 287 (next | show all)
I started it and couldn't get sucked into the story. I suspect it was the wrong book at the wrong time. I might like it better later, but I'm not likely to try it because there are other books that I WANT to read waiting for me. ( )
  KittyCunningham | Apr 26, 2021 |
Good. ( )
  xumit | Apr 15, 2021 |
Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli immigrate from Calcutta to Boston where Ashoke attends MIT and later becomes a professor at another school in the Boston area. In 1968, their son, who they name Gogol, is born. A few years later they have a daughter, Sonia. The story takes us from Gogol’s birth to the end of the century.

The genius of this story is that the characters are not exceptional. It’s a coming to America and a coming of age story told with heart but no manufactured drama. Gogol, is the slightly more main character than either of his parents, but we spend time with all three of them.

I was thoroughly engaged in the story, but it moves along so briskly that we never truly get to know the characters. This is especially true of Gogol, who we follow from birth to age 32.

Beautifully written, great cinematic descriptions from start to finish and enlightening chronicle of the experience of first generation immigrants. Highly recommended.

( )
  LenJoy | Mar 14, 2021 |
While this is the story of Gogol Ganguli, first we must start from the beginning. Perspective must be established. Before Gogol's birth and as a Bengali Indian keeping with her culture, Ashima Ganguli comes to the United State to partake in an arranged marriage. By 1968, Ashima has only been in Cambridge, Massachusetts for eighteen months before becoming pregnant with her first child. This is where Lahiri first draws attention to the many differences between American and Indian practices and this is where Gogol's life begins; in this state of conflicting cultures. But back to Ashima. The first evidence of cultural confusion: the fact women in Bengali do not give birth in a cold, sterile hospital. They birth in the warm and comforting home their parents. Gogol is out of place even before he has been born. Then a subtle example of cultural ignorance: once Ashima is in labor the nurse cannot figure out how to fold Ashima's six yards of silk sari. Most importantly (and the crux of the story), Indian parents do not choose the name of their child on a whim. It is this last detail that sets the stage for Gogol's life story: the importance of identity; the necessity of belonging; the eventual learning to compromise in order to belong in harmony. We follow Gogol through childhood into manhood as he navigates relationships with his family, love interests, and homeland. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Feb 23, 2021 |
This is a pleasant read, not life-changing for me by any stretch of the imagination, but a nice story written in effortless prose about growing up as a first-generation American of Indian parentage (an experience I had no familiarity with and thus profited from reading about). ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 287 (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.

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jhumpa Lahiriprimary authorall editionscalculated
Choudhury, SaritaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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
First words
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.
For being a foreigner, Ashima is beginning to realize, is a sort of lifelong pregnancy--a perpetual wait , a constant burden, a continuous feeling out of sorts.
Until now it has not occurred to Gogol that names die over time, that they perish just as people do.
"Remember that you and I made this journey, that we went together to a place where there was nowhere left to go."
"Now I know why he went to Cleveland, " she tells people, refusing even in death, to utter her husband's name. "He was teaching me how to live alone."
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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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