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The Namesake

The Namesake

Book rating: 04 Paperback Harper Perennial

By (author) Jhumpa Lahiri

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  • Publisher: HarperPerennial
  • Format: Paperback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 22mm | 118g
  • Publication date: 1 August 2004
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0006551807
  • ISBN 13: 9780006551805
  • Sales rank: 4,089

Product description

'The Namesake' is the story of a boy brought up Indian in America. 'When her grandmother learned of Ashima's pregnancy, she was particularly thrilled at the prospect of naming the family's first sahib. And so Ashima and Ashoke have agreed to put off the decision of what to name the baby until a letter comes...' For now, the label on his hospital cot reads simply BABY BOY GANGULI. But as time passes and still no letter arrives from India, American bureaucracy takes over and demands that 'baby boy Ganguli' be given a name. In a panic, his father decides to nickname him 'Gogol' - after his favourite writer. Brought up as an Indian in suburban America, Gogol Ganguli soon finds himself itching to cast off his awkward name, just as he longs to leave behind the inherited values of his Bengali parents. And so he sets off on his own path through life, a path strewn with conflicting loyalties, love and loss...Spanning three decades and crossing continents, Jhumpa Lahiri's much-anticipated first novel is a triumph of humane story-telling. Elegant, subtle and moving, 'The Namesake' is for everyone who loved the clarity, sympathy and grace of Lahiri's Pulitzer Prize-winning debut story collection, 'Interpreter of Maladies'.

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Author information

Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London of Bengali parents, and grew up in Rhode Island, USA. Her stories have appeared in many American journals, including the New Yorker. Interpreter of Maladies, her first published collection, won the Pulitzer Prize 2000 for Fiction, the New Yorker Prize for Best First Book, the PEN/Hemingway Award and was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Award. Jhumpa Lahiri lives in New York.

Customer reviews

By Myriam Gonzalez Garcia 31 Aug 2009 4

I just finished reading this book. I had to do it for one of my university courses and I didn't know if I would like it or not, but I must say I loved it!rnrnThe descriptions are beautiful and one cannot stop reading, I strongly recommend this book!

Review quote

'Extraordinary...a book that spins gold out of the straw of ordinary lives. The calm, pellucid grace of her prose, the sustained stretch of crystal clear writing, its elegant pianissimo tone, pulls the reader from beginning to end in one neat arc. Every detail, every observation, every sentence rings with the clarity of truth. The Namesake is a novel that makes its reader feel privileged to be allowed access to its immensely empathetic world.' The Times 'The kind of writer who makes you want to grab the next person and say "Read this!"' Amy Tan 'Impeccably written' Daily Mail 'Gracious...in refined, empathetic prose...each of Lahiri's characters patches together their own identity, making this resonant fable neither uniquely Asian nor uniquely American, but tenderly, wryly human.' Hephzibah Anderson, The Observer 'This is certainly a novel that explores the concepts of cultural identity, of rootlessness, of tradition and familial expectation...but ...it never succumbs to the cliches those themes so often entail. Instead, Lahiri turns it into something both larger and simpler: the story of a man and his family, of his life and hopes, loves and sorrows. She has a talent - magical, sly, cumulative - that most writers would kill for.' Julie Myerson, The Guardian 'Jhumpa Lahiri's excellent first novel... is the work of a fine writer, discriminating, compassionate and surprising. It is, too, a story for our times.' Rachel Cusk, Evening Standard 'A joy to read.' Sunday Telegraph

Editorial reviews

The Namesake is a tender, moving account of an immigrant Indian family's struggle to integrate with American life, while at the same time respecting the traditions of Bengali culture. Focusing primarily on the experiences of the American-born Gogol Ganguli, the novel consists of a series of key moments - minutely observed, delicately constructed episodes that force him to address questions of loyalty and belonging. Gogol's unusual name, symbolic of parental love, provides the over-arching theme that unites the novel; it is a source of embarrassment, confusion and ultimately pride. Lahiri's Pulitzer prize-winning skill as a short-story writer is recognisable in her ability to capture atmosphere and emotion concisely and often beautifully. With humour and sympathy, she creates characters who must confront their fears and inadequacies to have a chance of happiness, against a background of three decades of American and Indian life. This is a wonderful, entertaining story, brilliantly told. (Kirkus UK)