Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’

After Unaccustomed Earth, “The Namesake” was my immediate choice.   I was overwhelmed by Ms.Lahiri’s grip on short stories and so wanted to read her first novel, “The Namesake“. And all I can say, she is just incredibly awesome and certainly one of the best !!!  “The Namesake” is one of the best novel I have read and it goes without saying that Jhumpa Lahiri has very successfully carved a place for herself amongst the great contemporary story writers of the time.

Very similar backdrop, Jhumpa Lahiri visits her familiar territory again with “The Namesake”, immigrant Bengali family. But the main theme of this novel is ” name”, the name of  Ashoke Ganguli and Ashima Ganguli’s son Gogol Ganguli !!!  It is interesting to see how Ms.Lahiri has dealt with this very common practice of having two names in bengali family into a full length novel. In a stroke the story line goes like this…
“The Namesake” is the journey of  the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta(Kolkata) through their fraught transformation into Americans. Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Ashoke, an academic does his best to adapt while his wife pines for home back in India. Born to Ashoke and his wife, Gogol is afflicted from birth with a name that is neither Indian nor American nor even really a first name at all. He is given the name by his father who, before coming  to America to study at MIT, was almost killed in a train accident in India. Rescuers caught sight of the volume of Nikolai Gogol’s short stories that he held, and hauled him from the train. Ashoke gives this name as a substitute to his real name which was supposed to be proposed by his grandmother which unfortunately never happened. And this awkward name Gogol sticks there after. Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name, leaving him confused throughout about his identity and individuality. The story revolves around Gogol as he stumbles along the first-generation path in America, torn between conflicting loyalties ( Parents and his new life), studies, work and wrenching love affairs.

“The Namesake”  is a simple story without much of emotional show off. Its neither a tragedy  nor a comedy but a very simple real life story about  Gogol who is desperately trying to assimilate himself to the American way of life. The story is very  easily identifiable and true to life in every sense. Jhumpa Lahiri’s detailing is something one should look forward to in this novel. Richly infused with minute details of ones daily life, be it food, clothing, language or lifestyle…Ms.Lahiri has painted a vivid and clear picture of an Indian family trying to strike a balance between their traditional way of living and American lifestyle. The penetrating eyes of the author has very distinctly expressed the mind of Gogol and how he deals with the expectations bestowed upon him by his parents, and also the means by which he slowly, sometimes painfully, come to define himself  in this fine novel of identity. The language used is lucid and expressions are dealt with pure sensitivity. Ms. Lahiri masterfully weaves a compelling story and coats it with her authentic familiarity with the lives of the Indian diaspora, making this novel a gift for her readers who can identify with her characters and thus making it a pleasurable read.

“The Namesake” is essentially a tale of love, solitude and emotional upheavals with an amazing eye for detail and ironic observation. Anyone looking for a simple story about common and simple people with utmost reality…”The Namesake” is the one to grab. And for the author…. Jhumpa Lahiri’s unique understanding of complex human emotions and an incredible ability to convey them to the reader is highly commendable and her novel is surely a piece which can keep you wrapped with nostalgia for days to come !!!


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