Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies established this young writer as one the most brilliant of her generation. Her stories are one of the very few debut works -- and only a handful of collections -- to have won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Among the many other awards and honors it received were the New Yorker Debut of the Year award, the PEN/Hemingway Award, and the highest critical praise for its grace, acuity, and compassion in detailing lives transported from India to America.
In The Namesake, Lahiri enriches the themes that made her collection an international bestseller: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation, and, most poignantly, the tangled ties between generations. Here again Lahiri displays her deft touch for the perfect detail -- the fleeting moment, the turn of phrase -- that opens whole worlds of emotion.
The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged wedding, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world. Named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents in memory of a catastrophe years before, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name.
Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along the first-generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs. With penetrating insight, she reveals not only the defining power of the names and expectations bestowed upon us by our parents, but also the means by which we slowly, sometimes painfully, come to define ourselves. The New York Times has praised Lahiri as "a writer of uncommon elegance and poise." The Namesake is a fine-tuned, intimate, and deeply felt novel of identity.
An effortless and self-assured bildungsroman that more than delivers on the promise of...Interpreter of Maladies...a novel of epic sweep told with a short story's precision.*
*Bildungsroman is a German word meaning 'novel of formation' - that is a novel that follows someone's growth from childhood to maturity.
This eagerly anticipated debut novel deftly expands on Lahiri's signature themes of love, solitude and cultural disorientation.
Jhumpa Lahiri expands her Pulitzer Prize-winning short stories of Indian assimilation into her lovely first novel, The Namesake.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Jhumpa Lahiri weaves an intricate story of the cultural assimilation of an Indian family in America. Their bumpy journey to self-acceptance will move you.
The Pulitzer Prize winner weaves an authentic tale of a Bengali family in Boston...This novel powerfully depicts the universal pull of family traditions.
A disappointingly bland follow-up to a stellar story collection.
Lahiri offers a number of beautiful and moving tableaus, but these fail to coalesce into something more than a modest family saga. By any other writer, this would be hailed as a promising debut, but it fails to clear the exceedingly high bar set by her previous work.
Booklist - Donna Seaman
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.
This poignant treatment of the immigrant experience is a rich, stimulating fusion of authentic emotion, ironic observation, and revealing details. Readers who enjoyed the author's Pulitzer Prize-winning short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, will not be disappointed.
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.
The casual beauty of the writing keeps the pages turning.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Megan Cruz Loved it! If you are looking for a way to better understand and help you connect to your family and cultural then The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri is the book for you. Lahiri does a wonderful job of giving you a well thought out and organized story of a young... Read More
Rated of 5
by gurpreet review by gurpreet I appreciate that an American audience might think they are learning a great deal about Bengali people, but Bengalis themselves can see the gaping holes in Lahiri's understanding. Bengalis like to think they are artistic and religious - these are... Read More
Rated of 5
by Maya Perfect The Book is beautiful. I am from India, and so I would say the story is so true. I like the novel so much that I chose this to be my Book Review in class as well as my Project......Go Gogol !
Rated of 5
by Sam Immigration Conundrum Overall, I enjoyed the book, though I felt it began and ended a bit sluggishly. The author has crafted a picture and story that seems to flow from a personal understanding of several cultures without focusing on only one, or writing from only one... Read More
Rated of 5
by ND Taken from a different angle I think of this book as reflecting an intricate relationship in a family originally from a culture quite different from that in the U.S. Of partiuclar significance is the relationship between Gogol (after reading the book it seemed to me that he... Read More
Rated of 5
I can certainly understand how Americans of non-Indian descent can praise The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. I am a Indian American and I saw many similarities between the characters and their experiences and my own family, however I do not think that... Read More
A moving, realistic, but always hopeful narrative novel of the Wu family - father Nan, mother Pingping, and son Taotao - as they fully sever their ties with China in the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and begin a new, free life in the United States.
Nidali narrates the story of her childhood in Kuwait, her teenage years in Egypt, and her familys last flight to Texas, offering a humorous, sharp but loving portrait of an eccentric middle-class family.
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