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The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri - Book Report/Review Example

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Jhumpa Lahiri, born in London, bought up in Rhode Island, lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of three books and was already renowned for her book Interpreter of Maladies, a collection of short stories by the time her second book, by the time The Namesake was published.
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Download file to see previous pages The book, The Namesake is based on the subject of two Bengali immigrants who are newly married; the Gangulis from Calcutta who begin their family in the United States. Gogol and Sonia grow up in the States and experience the universal cultural gap being Asian-Americans and generation gap with their parents as well. The Namesake was adapted for a movie which was released in March of 2007 directed by Mira Nair starring Kal Penn, Tabu and Irrfan Khan.
Michiko Kakutani summarizes the author's novel The Namesake: "Jhumpa Lahiri's quietly dazzling new novel, The Namesake, is that rare thing: an intimate, closely observed family portrait that effortlessly and discreetly unfolds to disclose a capacious social vision."
Ashoke Ganguli (Irrfan Khan) and Ashima Ganguli (Tabu) immigrate to the United States in the late 1960s shortly after getting married, for Ashoke to complete his engineering degree in MIT. Although Ashoke is ready to embrace the new world with a somewhat open mind, her wife is not so prepared and desperately misses her old life back in India.
While living in Cambridge, their first baby is born who is a boy. The boy's official name, according to Indian ritual, is to be given by the great-grandmother and a pet name. The letter with the name doesn't arrive and thus, Ashoke decides on a pet name of Gogol for the time being. The name Gogol holds a special significance for him, for once on a train journey he was reading a book by a Russian author named Nikolai Gogol, during the night when the train when off track but he was saved as he was awake.

But the tale generally belongs to the Gangulis' son, Gogol, a typical American boy; who detests his name, which unintentionally turned into his official name on the first day of nursery school. He doesn't like the fact that his name is meaningless and incomprehensible; that it has no part in defining who he is, that it is neither Indian nor American but of all things Russian.

When Gogol becomes an adult of 18 years, he changes his name from Gogol to Nikhil. He enrolls in the Yale University with a new identity keen on becoming a new person. He gradually drifts far from Ashoke and Ashima and take in the life of New Yorkers, living with his girlfriend, Maxine (Jacinda Barrett) and taking pleasure from a way of life exotic to him.

In a meaningless way, Gogol's search for an identity continues and he finds it difficult to come at peace with him on many levels than one. Gogol's marriage is to some extent confusing and the last chapter of the book is rather a written in a hurry which leaves the reader wanting more in many ways as they seem to be bland.

When the story is at the end, Gogol is 32 but it rather feel like he's just beginning to know himself. Moreover, the reader is left with a curiosity to know more about Gogol and his experiences somehow which is a small disappointment.

The emotions depicted in the book are deep and intense and the journey of almost 30 years in the making is made with a richness known rarely among authors. It whizzes in and out of details at the precise moments, a vibrancy of sense and exact degree of character.

In the Washington Post, the author answers a question about her life and conflicts she faced as a child of immigrants living and raised in America:

"For me, it was always a question of allegiance, of choice. I wanted ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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