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The Namesake 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 AmericaIn 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 Book subtitle I will write down everything I know about a certain family of Bengali immigrants in the United States by Jhumpa Lahiri.Immigrant anguish the toll it takes in settling in an alien country after having bidden adieu to one s home, family, and culture is what this prize winning novel is supposed to explore, but it s nothan a superficial complaint about a few signature and done to death South Asian issues relating to marriage and paternal expectations a clich d immigrant s Book subtitle I will write down everything I know about a certain family of Bengali immigrants in the United States by Jhumpa Lahiri.Immigrant anguish the toll it takes in settling in an alien country after having bidden adieu to one s home, family, and culture is what this prize winning novel is supposed to explore, but it s nothan a superficial complaint about a few signature and done to death South Asian issues relating to marriage and paternal expectations a clich d immigrant story, I m afraid to say.Gogol s life, and that of every person related to him in any way, from the day of his birth to his divorce at 30, is documented in a long monotone, like a camera trained on a still scene, without zooming in and out, recording every movement the lens catches, accidentally A final picture emerges in which nothing in particular stands out and twists that could have been exploreddeeply, on a philosophical and humanistic level, such as Gogol s disillusionment with his dual identity or the aftermath of Gogol s father Ashoke s death are touched upon perfunctorily or rushed through Some cultural comparisons are made as though to validate the enlightened United States at the cost of backward India This is a familiar line in immigrant success stories to justify their decision to migrate to the West by heaping scorn on the country or culture of their origin.But even that s not done intelligently E.g Maxine s mother wears swimsuit on the lakeside Gogol thinks his mother would never do that Maxine s parents don t bother when Gogol moves into their house and have sex with Maxine Gogol s parents would have been horrified It is almost in these words the comparisons are made Well, of course We get it.However, on the bright side, I liked the trope of public vs private names Nikhil aka Gogol and how Lahiri relates this private, accidental double naming to the protagonist s larger identity crisis as an American of Indian background But this is also wasted and in the end you are left with a lot of impatience welling up inside you February 2015 After finishing the Namesake, my thoughts were drawn to my last roommate in college, an Indian woman studying for her PHD in Psychology When I first moved in, she had just broken up with her white boyfriend It never would have worked out anyway she had cried By the end of that same year she was flying of to Houston to be wed to a man she had only seen once, a marriage arranged by their parents Many nights my other roommate an exchange student from Berlin and I would sit out on the balco After finishing the Namesake, my thoughts were drawn to my last roommate in college, an Indian woman studying for her PHD in Psychology When I first moved in, she had just broken up with her white boyfriend It never would have worked out anyway she had cried By the end of that same year she was flying of to Houston to be wed to a man she had only seen once, a marriage arranged by their parents Many nights my other roommate an exchange student from Berlin and I would sit out on the balcony smoking cigarettes and marveling at the concept of an arranged marriage in the new millennium This book made me understand her a little bit better, her choice in marriage and other aspects of our briefly shared lives, like her putting palm oil in her hair, the massive Dutch oven that was constantly blowing steam, or her mother living with us for 3 months This is after all the story of an Indian growing up American and the cultural adaptations and clashes that color his life Perspective shifting from parent to child and back again, it s an engaging view of an immigrant family in America Gogol hates his name, and the Bengali traditions that are forced on him since childhood The reader follows him through adolescence into adulthood where his history and his family affect his relationships with womenthan anything else As much as this book was heralded for its exploration of the immigrant experience, as any truly great piece of literature, its lessons are universal Anyone who has ever been ashamed of their parents, felt the guilty pull of duty, questioned their own identity, or fallen in love, will identify with these intermingling lives The pace in which she tells it is exactly equal to looking back on the memories of a life lived Skimming over the mundane, she punctuates the cherished memories and life changing events that are now somewhat hazy It is a superb first novel In 2000, Jhumpa Lahiri won the Pulitzer Prize for her story collection Interpreter of Maladies, becoming the first Indian to win the award In the last story, an engineering graduate student arrives in Cambridge from Calcutta, starting a life in a new country This story is the basis for The Namesake, Lahiri s first full length novel where she weaves together elements from her own life to paint a picture of the Indian immigrant experience in the United States Ashoke and Ashmina Ganguli, recentl In 2000, Jhumpa Lahiri won the Pulitzer Prize for her story collection Interpreter of Maladies, becoming the first Indian to win the award In the last story, an engineering graduate student arrives in Cambridge from Calcutta, starting a life in a new country This story is the basis for The Namesake, Lahiri s first full length novel where she weaves together elements from her own life to paint a picture of the Indian immigrant experience in the United States Ashoke and Ashmina Ganguli, recently wed in an arranged marriage, have immigrated to Boston from Calcutta so that Ashoke can pursue a PhD in engineering A world away from their Bengali family and friends and in the days before the Internet, their only means of communication was aero grams Ashmina is immediately homesick for India so she founds a network of Bengalis up and down the east coast, preserving traditions and creating a pseudo family in her new country With her husband learning and teaching, these friends are a reminder of home for her, and, as a result, she never fully assimilates into American society Within the first year of the Gangulis arrival, Ashmina becomes pregnant with the couple s first child Adhering to Bengali tradition, Ashmina s grandmother is supposed to name the baby, but her letter never arrives Ashoke contemplates and comes up with the only name he can think of Gogol, after the Russian writer, whose volume of short stories saved his life during a fatal train derailment in India Both Ashoke and Ashmina desire that Gogol have a Bengali life in America despite being one of few Indian families in their area Gogol and his younger sister Sonali grow up fully assimilated as Americans They barely speak Bengali and only once in awhile crave Indian food Both choose career paths that are not traditionally Indian so that they have little contact with the Bengali culture that their parents fought so hard to preserve Lahiri even creates a character based on her own immigrant experiences who desires an identity different than Bengali or American and seeks a doctorate in French literature Based in Brooklyn and Paris, this woman resembles Lahiri as she learned to speak Italian and lived in Rome for a number of years Lahiri and her character sought to remake themselves in order to distance themselves from the Bengali culture that their parents forced upon them as children As in Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri paints a rich picture of the Indian immigrant experience in the United States Using short sentences with rich prose, the story moves quickly as we follow the Ganguli family for thirty five years of their lives Being an immigrant turns into a unique experience for each character, yet the story centers around Gogol as he moves from Indian American child to American Indian adult With a novel rich in subplots and provocative issues of the day, Jhumpa Lahiri is quickly becoming a leading voice in literary fiction and a favorite author of mine I look forward to the other rich novels that Lahiri has in store, and rate The Namesake 4.5 bright stars Look I admit it I read for escapist purposes Specifically, I read to experience a viewpoint that I would never have encountered otherwise I read to escape the boundaries of my own limited scope, to discover a new life by looking through lenses of all shades, shapes, weirds, wonders, everything humanity has been allotted to senses both defined and not, conveyed by the best of a single mortal s abilities within the span of a fragile stack printed with oh so water damageable ink I do not read Look I admit it I read for escapist purposes Specifically, I read to experience a viewpoint that I would never have encountered otherwise I read to escape the boundaries of my own limited scope, to discover a new life by looking through lenses of all shades, shapes, weirds, wonders, everything humanity has been allotted to senses both defined and not, conveyed by the best of a single mortal s abilities within the span of a fragile stack printed with oh so water damageable ink I do not read to have my reality handed back to me onmundane terms than I myself could create on two hours of sleep and a monstrosity of a hangover.The good things about this book It s readable Very readable Very punctual use of commas, and paragraph indentations, and general story flow And by reading it from cover to cover, I have discovered a pet peeve of mine that I hadn t realized I had been liable to, but now fully acknowledge as part and parcel of my readerly sensibilities Fortunate for me, not so fortunate for the book.Show, not tell Perhaps you ve heard the phrase, over and over and over to a nauseatingly horrific extent without any additional information as to how exactly to go about accomplishing this mantra There s a multitude of reasons for following this niftily short doctrine, and one of them is fully encompassed by this novel here, with its unholy engorgement on lists.If a scene pops up, lists of the surroundings If an action is participated in, lists of all the objects involved, with as prolific a number of brand names as possible If a character is introduced, well, the only way to go about it is to list of their clothing, their rote physical attributes, their major, their job, their personal history as far as is encompassed by a r sum or Facebook page Minimal amounts of creative flights, barely a metaphor in sight, and as for deeply resonant emotional delving into the personas meandering the page, down to the very blood and bones of their recognizable humanity Nadda I wish I was joking when I said that, had Lahiri not been allowed to pad her story with all these long strings of descriptive sentences that were nothingthan another entry in the same old, same old, you d be left with fifty pages If that The end result was a feeling of being able to read this story quickly, yes, but through a thick layer of cellophane that left in its wake singular feelings of why am I bothering and its good old pal, am I supposed to care There s another piece of terminology that writing classes love to throw around in addition to that previous standard, and that s voice If there was a voice in this novel, it was drowned by the endless streams of banal information attached to every inch of the plot s surface, leaving me with the slightly ill sense of watching the consumerism train wreck of typical American society without any reassurance that the author knew what they were doing Also, the almost constant adherence to stereotypes of Indians who immigrate to America as the engineering Ivy League repeat, along with every other gender familial socioeconomic stereotype known to humanity Considering the fact that one of my biggest reasons for reading as much as I do is to find a breakdown of these popular culture standards, I was rather disappointed Scratch that, I was very disappointed, enough to muse on whether this book, published all of nine years ago, had helped propagate those stereotypes in the first place Dark thoughts indeed.Finally, the literature title dropping I suppose I should ve expected it, what with the main character s name issues taking up the entirety of the novel s effort when it came to both theme and its own title, but by the end of it I was sick of seeing all those highflown phrases without a single scrip of fictional push on the author s part to live up to these influences Borrow a few methods of making your prose fly off the page in a churning maelstrom of creating your own beautiful song out of the best the written word has to offer Fine, dandy, go forth and prosper Shoving in The Man Without Qualities and Proust within the last few pages in some obtuse attempt to impress those who are in the know Hipster, and I mean that with a vengeance.So, simply put, if you re looking to recommend me South Asian literature, please oh please grant me a work along the lines of The God of Small Things Cultural intersection between self and others without relying on the obvious and the physical objects Check Characters that broke my heart over and over with their joy and their sorrow that I wish I could follow forever Check Voice Just You d have to read it It even has a literature reference, albeit in a way that pays full tribute to the work far beyond the facile typing of its signifying phrase and nothing.This Not so much

  • Paperback
  • 291 pages
  • The Namesake
  • Jhumpa Lahiri
  • English
  • 14 April 2017
  • 0618485228

About the Author: Jhumpa Lahiri

Nilanjana Sudeshna Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London and brought up in South Kingstown, Rhode Island Brought up in America by a mother who wanted to raise her children to be Indian, she learned about her Bengali heritage from an early age Lahiri graduated from South Kingstown High School and later received her B.A in English literature from Barnard College in 1989 She then received multiple degrees from Boston University an M.A in English, an M.A in Creative Writing, an M.A in Comparative Literature and a Ph.D in Renaissance Studies She took up a fellowship at Provincetown s Fine Arts Work Center, which lasted for the next two years 1997 1998.In 2001, she married Alberto Vourvoulias Bush, a journalist who was then Deputy Editor of TIME Latin America Lahiri currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children She has been a Vice President of the PEN American Center since 2005.Lahiri taught creative writing at Boston University and the Rhode Island School of Design Much of her short fiction concerns the lives of Indian Americans, particularly Bengalis.She received the following awards, among others 1999 PEN Hemingway Award Best Fiction Debut of the Year for Interpreter of Maladies 2000 The New Yorker s Best Debut of the Year for Interpreter of Maladies 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her debut Interpreter of Maladies


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