The Namesake

The Namesake

by Jhumpa Lahiri
4.2 312


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The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780618485222
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 09/01/2004
Series: Edition 001 Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 17,067
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile: 1210L (what's this?)

About the Author

JHUMPA LAHIRI is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and the author of Interpreter of Maladies, which won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Her work has been translated into twenty-nine languages.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:

London, England


B.A., Barnard College; M.A., Ph.D., Boston University

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The Namesake 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 312 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I began this book simply because my cousin said she loved it. I can now see why. It captivates the heart and soul. I was in tears by the end of the novel. Being an Indian raised in American, there was also a lot I could relate to and understand. An absolute must for your personal library!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My friends and i read this book as a book group. We didn't like it because it was boring, had no climax, and wasn't very exciting. This book reminded us more of a documentary than a novel. As we were reading, we were expecting a climactic action, but there was none. Although we didn't enjoy the book, it gave us a good insight on Indian culture.
Mymysterygirl More than 1 year ago
I started reading Jhumpa Lahiri in a college English course, starting with "Interpreter of Maladies." I enjoyed it so much that I couldn't wait till she wrote her next book which was this one, "The Namesake." It is an excellent book. It gives you a view into the world of another culture, and it also touches on some of the things that ethnic people deal with everyday in America; being different...having a different name, weird spelling to your name, having an accent, skin tone, dressing differently, trying to assimilate, etc. I totally recommend this book. She just came out with another book, also, so in total she has 3 published works.
barnsiefan More than 1 year ago
The story began well enough and I found myself emotionally invested in the lives of the young immigrant couple as they welcomed their first-born child, Gogol. However the story soon changed its focus from the parents to Gogol and that is where I lost interest in the story. It was difficult to feel emotionally invested in Gogol's life. This is because the book was at times too detailed (describing every last item visible in the room) and then at other not detailed enough (glossing over entire scenes such as when Gogol learns his wife has been cheating in the space of a paragraph). There were so many potential dramatic and moving moments in the book, but instead of creating gripping and climatic passages, these were delivered in a cold and factual way. I wanted to like the book, but I was so detatched from the main character that I could not. It was still an enjoyable read though, with a solid plot and good insight into the life of an immigrant family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had previously read a collection of short stories by this author and was lukewarm about it. But when I saw that she had written a novel I wanted to try it. I'm glad I did. It gave me insight into the trials and tribulations of a family which emigrated to the U.S., the parents being steeped in their Bengali traditions but giving birth to 2 children born here in the U.S. who are very "Americanized" and resent the ways of the old world. Very very good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the writing style, the flow, the characters. Very well written, believable, and relatable. One of those couldn't-put-it-down books. Highly recommended.
Megan_Cruz More than 1 year ago
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 boy named Gogol who grows up into a man while searching for his identity and dealing with family relationships. This novel is a great fictional depiction of very real circumstances and the trials of being a first generation child in America. It shows how hard it is to be a young kid in the United States and trying to keep cultural traditions and values. The novel clearly depicts how there is always a constant struggle no matter how long one has been living in this country. This is a book about life, and life can sometimes be boring and at parts the book is slow but if you keep reading in the end you will get a great message out of it.  I would definitely recommend this book because it is a very well written novel. It is a very moving and inspiration story that becomes very memorable. The language she uses to express her thoughts is very well crafted. Lahiri really has a way of making the reader want to keep turning the page 
Guest More than 1 year ago
How does a writer follow up a Pulitzer Prize-winning debut? Jhumpa Lahiri, who at the age of 32 was awarded the coveted literary prize for her masterful story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, once again marvels readers with smooth and elegant prose in her novel, The Namesake. Jhumpa Lahiri clearly illustrates what it is to live an entire life in America, but still feel a bit out of place at times. Her stunning images of the elaborate feasts, the traditional clothing, and the ceremonial rites of the Indian culture make The Namesake a very rewarding and worthwhile reading experience.
nic121 More than 1 year ago
beautiful book, dull protagonist Gogol is an extremely dull and arrogant character. he took away from what would otherwise be tale of diaspora and the borders it creates
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the book for real and then i got it on this and decided to give some reveiws scince you can do it online but i woyld give it only four stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a required summer reading book for my high school, and I did not expect much from it due to how bored I usually get during required reading. However, I was pleasantly surprised and read this story as quickly (if not quicker) as I would a book of my own choosing. Witnessing the Indian-American Gogol develop in contrast to the way his Indian parents are developing to their new life is beautiful and refreshing, for seeing a young man who is merely just beginning his life seem more accustomed to the culture of America than his parents who outnumber his age by many years opens up the eyes of the reader to what it really is like for people of another culture to enter a different country. However, the two cultures soon begin to merge seamlessly, for as Ashima and Ashoke begin to welcome the new American culture, Gogol begins to accept his Indian heritage more and more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yh b
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story that brings you into culture and understanding
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Namesake - A great light read This book starts off with a couple from India, Ashima and Ashoke, moving to America. Ashima gives birth to a baby boy, and with a lot of thought, they name him Gogol which has significance to the father. As Gogol grows up, the family learns to adapt to American culture, but they keep their Bengali culture alive within the family. Gogol does not necessarily like his Bengali heritage, and as he becomes an adult, he pulls away from his Indian culture and his family which results in him changing his name. From then on, he assimilates into the American culture and adopts the lifestyle. Personally, I really enjoyed this book. Throughout the book, it was very interesting to see how Gogol grows up and adapts to the American lifestyle, while his parents retain their Indian culture. We see that Gogol believes his cutlure holds him back, through his name, the way he looks, the food he eats, and where he is from. I really enjoyed reading about the relationship between Gogol and his parents because they develop such different beliefs. His parents realize they need to allow Gogol to live his own life, and that they can’t hold him back. Although some parts of the book were a little slow at times, the author quickly drew me in later on, so I always wanted to keep reading. My favorite part of the book is when Gogol describes women he is in love with. He goes into so much detail about their appearance and their personality that is it so easy to picture them in your head. Overall, this book a great light read, and I would definitely recommend it to any reader.
belle7171 More than 1 year ago
The Namesake follows the life of Gogol Ganguli, starting from when his parents immigrate from Calcutta to Massachusetts. As a first generation Indian American, Gogol struggles with meshing his Indian life with his American one. The book is beautifully written; the descriptions that Ms. Lahiri produces really allow the reader into the scene. She does not overuse conversation, instead, the book is fairly quiet, enmeshing you in the character's consciousness and thoughts. There were a few questions regarding the characters that never got answered, and I felt like I was left hanging at the end, however, I understood the poignancy of the ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The most satisfying of one of my favorite contemporary authers.
ambd More than 1 year ago
Very Interesting how our Name can influence us. Excellent story on Family traditions and how they affect our approach to life. Love this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy reaading..interesting..would highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful. Her books usually are.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is actually a very simple story....yet complicated, about life, family, self discovery, loyalty and ask the things that make up life. Very well written and in a style that kept me interested enough to keep the pages turning
Kellykos More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book.  Very emotional read for me.  Would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a book similar to Ann Tyler's style of writing, who I usually enjoy.  Will read more by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this is a totally shallow and vapid book, in poor prose, with shallow, uninteresting characters. I'd recommend it as an "airplane read", to be left in the airport lounge or hotel room,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although this book is about a family from India it touched many memories and emotions from my upbringing making the story have universal appeal. Families are the same everywhere.
printress More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed "The Namesake" so much that i went out and bought her others.Jhumpa Lahiri writes with the gentlest hand...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago