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The Namesake (2003)

by Jhumpa Lahiri

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
11,589302464 (3.91)1 / 487
A young man born of Indian parents in America struggles with issues of identity from his teens to his thirties.
  1. 60
    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 487 mentions

English (295)  Dutch (1)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  Japanese (1)  All languages (302)
Showing 1-5 of 295 (next | show all)
One of those novels in which very little happens, but it doesn't happen beautifully. A sweet and gentle story of immigration and the tension between the old life and new. A novel which, despite its quietness, is very hard to put down. ( )
1 vote Estragon1958 | May 23, 2022 |
This novel is about a Bengali family. The parents came to the U.S. in the 1960s; the husband got a doctoral degree at MIT and became a professor; they had two American-born children; the children grew up into adulthood, struggling with how they were positioned in Bengali and American culture.....So basically, this is a novel focused on themes the author already addressed in her previous short story selection, "The Interpreter of Maladies." Except since this is a longer piece, the author had more time to write about the details of life. Life in Boston suburbs. Life on Yale campus as a college student, dating a cultured white woman. Life in Manhattan as an architect, dating another cultured white woman. Life in Manhattan as an architect, this time dating and later marrying a cultured Bengali woman. Bengali wedding rituals. Bengali dinner parties. The characters lead interesting lives. They look good; they were nice clothes; they eat fancy or at least good food; they eat at nice restaurants and shop at nice boutiques; they go to good schools..... They fall in love enthusiastically, and when they date they do so many interesting things. The author takes a lot of pain to describe how characters fall in love and the romantic things they did. (But when the characters break up, the author lets that happen very quickly. No more details. ) Some passages about distressing experiences the characters go through (e.g. the train accident, and the death of a family member) are well-written and engaging.

At the later parts of the novel, the author devoted a lot of energy in describing a new Bengali character. She lived a very interesting life and displayed depths in thoughts and emotions. She did some controversial stuff. I thought she was more interesting than the main character, and I even thought she was probably the most authentic reflection in the book of the author's personal experience. But in the last chapter of the book, she just vanished from the story, because she had a fallout with the main character. No in-depth description of the fallout process. She was brutally removed from the plot line :P I would have liked to read more about her.

I think the author wanted to present a contrast between romantic relationship with White versus Bengali-American people, and how one's investment in these relationship had an interplay with one's cultural identity. But I think the women dated by the main character were actually very similar, regardless of ethnic background. The differences between the relationships were superficial. ( )
  CathyChou | Mar 11, 2022 |
Reviewing this book because of two reasons.
1.that it says on the cover that it has won the pulitzer prize.
2.Jhumpha Lahiri had been author I had come to like for the other book of short stories I had read and for the freshness of her writing style although the stories mostly talked about the Bengali diaspora.

On beginning this book,I had the realisation about the setting being the same as what I had already become familiar with from her other stories.But initially the narration had drawn me instantly and I couldnt put down the book after I started it.Talking of Ashima's marriage and life with Ashoke,the anticipation and expectation I had from the start was quite high.But it was not met.

Yes, Lahiri is an expert in turning simple words into colourful images but past the first few chapters the novel turned out to be nothing like how I expected it to be and throughout the novel the positive spark I was searched for was missing.Maybe Gogol returning to his senses in the end may have seemed a bit like that but it still wasn’t what I was expecting

The transformation into film also didn’t make much of an impact upon me . ( )
  Linnabraham | Jan 6, 2022 |
I got 2.5 hours into the audiobook before putting it down. It's not bad, just not my cup of tea. I felt the same about Interpreter of Maladies. The way the narrative is told, in a very detached manner, doesn't work for me, not to mention that it's far more introspection focused than plot focused. I will say that the details of the different cultures, foods, and experiences are told beautifully, and I definitely understand why people do like this book. ( )
  hissingpotatoes | Dec 28, 2021 |
Another great read by a newly discovered ( for me) author! ( )
  JosephKing6602 | Oct 25, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 295 (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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Average: (3.91)
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