The namesake /

Main Author: Lahiri, Jhumpa.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Mariner Books, 2004.
Edition: 1st Mariner Books ed.
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Review by Booklist Review

Lahiri's short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize, and her deeply knowing, avidly descriptive, and luxuriously paced first novel is equally triumphant. Ashoke Ganguli, a doctoral candidate at MIT, chose Gogol as a pet name for his and his wife's first-born because a volume of the Russian writer's work literally saved his life, but, in one of many confusions endured by the immigrant Bengali couple, Gogol ends up on the boy's birth certificate. Unaware of the dramatic story behind his unusual and, eventually, much hated name, Gogol refuses to read his namesake's work, and just before he leaves for Yale, he goes to court to change his name to Nikhil. Immensely relieved to escape his parents' stubbornly all-Bengali world, he does his best to shed his Indianness, losing himself in the study of architecture and passionate if rocky love affairs. But of course he will always be Gogol, just as he will always be Bengali, forever influenced by his parents' extreme caution and restraint. No detail of Nikhil's intriguing life is too small for Lahiri's keen and zealous attention as she painstakingly considers the viability of transplanted traditions, the many shades of otherness, and the lifelong work of defining and accepting oneself. --Donna Seaman Copyright 2003 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

This slim, glossy volume pays homage to both Jhumpa Lahiri's bestselling novel, The Namesake, and its Hollywood adaptation while also shedding light on the creative process and friendship between author and director. In her opening remarks, Lahiri briefly describes the novel's conception ("The Namesake began as a note to myself, casually jotted down at some point in my twenties, consisting of the phrase ?A boy named Gogol'"), its slow route to publication and later its blossoming into film ("how strange and wonderful to watch the story I had invented, alone and over the course of so many years, being collectively wrestled with anew"). Lahiri emphasizes that collaborating with director Nair was a rewarding experience. For her part, Nair describes her interest in Lahiri's novel as immediate: "The Namesake was many of my worlds: the Calcutta I left behind as a teenager, the Cambridge where I went to college, and the New York where I now live." The two women's essays are followed by dozens of vivid images-from both the film set and the India of Nair and Lahiri's memories-interspersed between passages from the novel. Lovers of the film and novel will relish this tribute. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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Review by Library Journal Review

Gogol Ganguli is born to Indian immigrants newly arrived in Cambridge, MA, after their arranged marriage. Gogol becomes the Russian author's namesake as a newborn, when his grandmother's letter decreeing his official name fails to arrive from Calcutta. As a first-generation American, Gogol grows up resenting both his strange name and the yoke of Indian culture imposed by his parents and their extended family of Indian expatriates. This first novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Lahiri (Interpreter of Maladies) cobbles together everyday events with mesmerizing inner dialog and glimpses of Bengali culture. It's a family saga burnished to glowing intensity by the perfection of Indian-British actress Sarita Choudhury's delivery. Essential for all fiction collections.AJudith Robinson, Univ. at Buffalo, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-A novel about assimilation and generational differences. Gogol is so named because his father believes that sitting up in a sleeping car reading Nikolai Gogol's "The Overcoat" saved him when the train he was on derailed and most passengers perished. After his arranged marriage, the man and his wife leave India for America, where he eventually becomes a professor. They adopt American ways, yet all of their friends are Bengalis. But for young Gogol and his sister, Boston is home, and trips to Calcutta to visit relatives are voyages to a foreign land. He finds his strange name a constant irritant, and eventually he changes it to Nikhil. When he is a senior at Yale, his father finally tells him the story of his name. Moving to New York to work as an architect, he meets Maxine, his first real love, but they separate after his father dies. Later, his mother reintroduces him to a Bengali woman, and they fall in love and marry, but their union does not last. The tale comes full circle when the protagonist, home for a Bengali Christmas, rediscovers his father's gift of Gogol's short stories. This novel will attract not just teens of other cultures, but also readers struggling with the challenges of growing up and tugging at family ties.-Molly Connally, Chantilly Regional Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A first novel from Pulitzer-winner Lahiri (stories: Interpreter of Maladies, 1999) focuses on the divide between Indian immigrants and their Americanized children. The action takes place in and around Boston and New York between 1968 and 2000. As it begins, Ashoke Ganguli and his pregnant young wife Ashima are living in Cambridge while he does research at MIT. Their marriage was arranged in Calcutta: no problem. What is a problem is naming their son. Years before in India, a book by Gogol had saved Ashoke's life in a train wreck, so he wants to name the boy Gogol. The matter becomes contentious and is hashed out at tedious length. Gogol grows to hate his name, and at 18 the Beatles-loving Yale freshman changes it officially to Nikhil. His father is now a professor outside Boston; his parents socialize exclusively with other middle-class Bengalis. The outward-looking Gogol, however, mixes easily with non-Indian Americans like his first girlfriend Ruth, another Yalie. Though Lahiri writes with painstaking care, her dry synoptic style fails to capture the quirkiness of relationships. Many scenes cry out for dialogue that would enable her characters to cut loose from a buttoned-down world in which much is documented but little revealed. After an unspecified quarrel, Ruth exits. Gogol goes to work as an architect in New York and meets Maxine, a book editor who seems his perfect match. Then his father dies unexpectedly--the kind of death that fills in for lack of plot--and he breaks up with Maxine, who like Ruth departs after a reported altercation (nothing verbatim). Girlfriend number three is an ultrasophisticated Indian academic with as little interest in Bengali culture as Gogol; these kindred spirits marry, but the restless Moushumi proves unfaithful. The ending finds the namesake alone, about to read the Russian Gogol for the first time. A disappointingly bland follow-up to a stellar story collection. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.