Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Namesake Review

Movie Poster & Tie-in cover
Original US Publication Cover   

The Namesake is the story of the Ganguli family and their lives in two worlds, one in the modern United States and the other in India. Two worlds also play a major part in the story of Gogol, the son in the book, who changes his name to Nikhil because he is ashamed of the name Gogol. He is named after a Russian author who is father favored, despite the fact that Indian custom dictates that he be named an traditional Indian name. The story is a follow up to author Jhumpa Lahiri's acclaimed debut novel The Interpreter of Maladies.

My thoughts:
I bought the book for two reasons, one it was on sale and two I loved The Interpreter of Maladies which I read during the summer before senior year of high school. Almost four years later I feel the same way about this book. I am not sure what it is that makes Lahiri's writing style so captivating. Perhaps it is the frankness of it all. Perhaps it is because Lahari, like Gogol, was raised in the US (though she was born in Britain) to Indian immigrants. Whatever the reason, even those (like me) who do not understand the difference between good names and pet names or know what foods the Ganguli family is eating can relate to the plight of at least one character. We have all felt lost at some point in time or felt as if we don't belong with everyone else. I challenge anyone to read this book and not have some thoughts about their own lives and exactly where in the world they fit.

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