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The Namesake: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, September 1, 2004
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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 --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Gogol is the novel's center and its primary perspective, the namesake of the title. Although he does not know it until much later in life, Gogol is named after the Russian author not because, as he is told at first, Gogol is his father's favorite writer but because a copy of Gogol's short stories saved Ashoke's life after a train wreck. To Ashoke, the name of Gogol signifies a beginning, survival, "everything that followed" the horrific night spent in the rubble. This idea is the heart of the novel; as immigrants the Gangulis must look forward to what lies ahead instead of what is past. In America, Ashima and Ashoke are reborn, just as their children must find their own paths.
Rich with detail and infused with affection, this novel has a lyricism that brings the Gangulis' world to life without exoticism. The description of food - Indian, French, American - is so exactly decadent that one should not read this book hungry.Read more ›
Through Lahiri's wise and sympathetic characterization, Gogol begins his odyssey towards Americanization even before he is born. His Bengali immigrant parents, whose marriage was arranged by their adherence to cultural tradition, cannot provide a proper name for their American-born son. Their patient but unrewarded anticipation of a "good" name for their son selected by a Calcutta matriarch, results in Gogol inadvertently acquiring a "pet" name chosen by his father. This duality, between Gogol's ethnic roots and his American birthright, perpetually torments him.
Befuddlement, confusion and anger over unresolved identity occurs with dispiriting regularity across the span of Gogol's young life. Even at a traditional Bengali party celebrating his six-month-old status, the infant Gogol, "forced to confront his destiny," cannot and "with lower lip trembling," begins to cry.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I remember when I "discovered" Jhumpa Lahiri's writing when I read Unaccustomed Earth. I know it may seem I'm exaggerating, but the first time I read her work, I noticed my... Read morePublished 7 days ago by LH
MUST READ book. Amazing story. Well told and very descriptive.Published 7 days ago by SoCal Girl 44
This novel was highly recommended to me years ago, but somehow I was putting the reading off until I recently read "In Other Words"; I then became curious of the writings... Read morePublished 15 days ago by Ella
One of my favorite books of all time! Read it years ago and I loved the book so much I wanted to share it. Unfortunately I never got it back. Was thrilled to find another one. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Etta
Son is reading for school, he is an advanced reader and this book has great vocabulary interest in cultural awareness.Published 19 days ago by Rita Browne
Highly recommend this read for anyone who has experienced growing up as an immigrant in the United States and for those who want to better understand the immigrant experience. Read morePublished 26 days ago by abisfabs
I could not put this book down. I loved how the author's writing flowed. I would recommend this to any one who enjoys a good read. This was chosen by a member of our book club. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Sue D. Mackenzie
I was very excited to read this book... it's not that I didn't enjoy it or hated it. I just didn't love it as I expected. Touching story, not quite what I wanted.Published 28 days ago by Kindle Customer