The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

the namesake

Publication Date: September 1st, 2004

This review does not contain spoilers.

Hello, remember me? Yeah I haven’t updated in a few weeks. I have been battling a serious reading slump, and I am slowly but surely getting out of it…but anyways….

In this story, we follow several different characters, starting with Ashima and Ashoke, who are recently married and move from their homes in India, to the unfamiliar world of Massachusetts. This is an immigrant story where we follow the Ganguli family as they have two children and become accustomed to daily life in America, and the struggles that they run into along the way. Life in America is so different compared to what they knew in India, and Ashima struggles to cope with the fact that they are so far away from family and the culture that she is familiar with.

When their son is born, they give him the name ‘Gogol’ which comes from a Russian author that Ashoke admired, and also signifies a certain tragedy that he lived through from his earlier years; however, Gogol hates the name, and does not understand why he was given a Russian name as a Bengali boy. Ashoke does not explain the meaning of Gogol’s name until later in his life, and throughout most of the novel, you see how a name is one of the most important pieces of identity you can have. We essentially watch Gogol from birth until well into his 30’s as he struggles to figure out who he is and what his purpose is. We also watch as this family slowly adopts American values and traditions, while also trying to hold on to their Indian culture.

As for my thoughts, I really enjoyed this novel, and I hope to read more from Jhumpa ┬áLahiri in the future. I was looking for books that are somewhat similar in style to Khaled Hosseini, who wrote ‘The Kite Runner’, and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’, which are two of my favorite books. When I did a google search for books or authors that were similar, Jhumpa Lahiri kept popping up, and I had ‘The Namesake’ sitting on my shelves for awhile, so I thought it would be the perfect time to give her a shot. I love novels about families, and especially families that are of different ethnicity and background from myself. Lahiri’s writing was very easy to follow, and I learned a lot about India and Indian culture from reading this book. Even though it took me a long time to finish this, I don’t blame the reasoning on the book itself, only on the fact that I just haven’t been reading much this month. I look forward to reading Lahiri’s other novels. I rated this 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

*****

-Carissa