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The Namesake

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  145,881 ratings  ·  7,712 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 291 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by Mariner Books (first published 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Anna
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 ...more
Nataliya
Jhumpa Lahiri's excellent mastery and command of language are amazing. She writes so effortlessly and enchantingly, in such a captivating manner and yet so matter-of-factly that her writing completely enthralls me. Just look at one of my favorite passages - so simple and beautiful:
"Try to remember it always," he said once Gogol had reached him, leading him slowly back across the breakwater, to where his mother and Sonia stood waiting. "Remember that you and I made this journey together to a pl
...more
Aubrey
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
...more
Sandhya

It would only be fair to mention here that I saw Mira Nair's adaptation of the book before I actually got down to reading this novel recently. Having loved the film, I was keen to see how Lahiri had approached her characters and where its cinematic version stood in comparison.


I'll say two things. First, I feel this is one of the few times when the film more than does justice to the book and second, that the book itself is a deeply involving and affecting experience. In fact, so compassionate and
...more
Kate
I liked the first 40 pages or so. I was very interested in the scenes in India and the way the characters perceived the U.S. after they moved. But soon I found myself losing interest. There were several problems. One is that Lahiri's novelistic style feels more like summary ("this happened, then this, then this") rather than a story I can experience through scenes. The voice was flat, and this was exacerbated by the fact that it's written in present tense. I never emotionally connected to these ...more
Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
This is easily the worst novel I've read in years. Here's my original review, off my now-defunct blog:
---
Do not read The Namesake.

I was going to skewer this, but for some reason I feel guilty. Probably because it's a book by a woman, and she seems perfectly nice. But. My main beefs with the book:

1. Nothing happens.

2. The main character is mind-numbingly dull.

3. The woman the main character marries, then divorces, in the final few chapters should have been the main character, because at least sh
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 16, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
Shelves: 1001-non-core, india
No second thought at all: this book is well-written.

It has all the elements of a good novel: tight intriguing plot, show don't tell, memorable characters that you can't help but empathize with and it teaches us a thing or two about being marginalized if not discriminated or alienated because we are different from most of the people we find ourselves with. I am living in the country where I was born but I have two siblings who are now living in the West (older brother in California and older sist
...more
Emma (Miss Print)
You've heard this story before. Junot Diaz, Julia Alvarez, Anzia Yezierska, and Edwidge Danticat are just a few of the authors who have told their own versions. The story they all have in common: The immigrant experience in the United States. Each of the above authors tackles this subject from a different enthnographic perspective, but the pull between the old (native) culture and the new (immigrant) one is always present.

Pulitzer prize winning author Jhumpa Lahiri adds to this conversation with
...more
Tatiana
Sep 13, 2011 Tatiana rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tatiana by: 1001 List
This appears to be written specifically for Western readers with no knowledge of Indian culture. You know, a commercial, populist work aimed to give you a flavor of India, shock you with arranged marriages, Indian family dynamics, struggles of Indian immigrants, etc., which at the same time gives you no real insight into the foreign mentality that isn't superficial or obvious.

Nothing new for me here. I say read In Other Rooms, Other Wonders instead if you are looking for something less trite.
Barbara
It was so good to immerse myself in another of Jhumpa Lahiri's books. As with her other novels, I felt totally enrapt with the ebb and flow of her narrative. Her writing is lyrical and elegant, yet simple and warmly descriptive.

The focus of the immigration experience is clearly defined. One can easily sense the feelings of alienation of Lahiri's characters. Despite the attempts to become a part of American society, the older generation clings to their ethnic and national practises and shuns newe
...more
Paul
This is a diaspora novel; the story of a Bengali family moving to America; the intermingling of cultures, the way different generations adapt and change. It is really well written and is very easy to read and I enjoyed this more than the collection of short stories by the same author. The plot itself is fairly thin and revolves around the main protagonist Gogol Ganguli, his parents (who move to America from India and his various doomed love interests. There are some good food descriptions, and f ...more
Diane
I was inspired to read this book after watching the movie. The prose is lovely; her descriptions are so personal and detailed that it makes it seem as if you have known these characters all your life. I was completely absorbed in this book and sad when it ended -- I wanted to stay with these characters, see how the rest of their lives turned out.
Meredith
2.5/5
This book is a family saga from the initial immigration of a wife and husband from India to The States which goes on to talk about the life of their son. Their son, Gogol, appears to be confused as to what his identity is and is conflicted over honoring tradition and the culture of a new world. This book is somewhat entertaining and interesting, but really did not leave any profound marks. Most of the book is light and almost reads like a soap opera at times (going from one meaningless rela
...more
Shamik
I could write a book about how this book affected me. I am an American Bengali and, for much of my life, I have taken my cultural background for granted, if not lost sight of it completely. "The Namesake" takes the little efforts and rituals in my family that I have always thought to be "weird", and weaves them into something utterly beautiful. Amazing novel.
Caris
Feb 17, 2010 Caris rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
I really should have finished this book a few days ago but, instead, focused my time on doing anything else. Continuing on would mean that I’d have to face the book’s concluding chapters, the ones I was most scared of. See, since I started, I’ve loved this book. It wasn’t that I was opposed to its ending, it’s that I didn’t want it to go where I knew it was going. The predictability wasn’t the problem. The plot, following rather typical relationships, moved along rather typically. That was the p ...more
Jeff
I'd read a few of Lahiri's short stories, and had seen the movie of The Namesake, but I put off reading it for a while.
It's definitely a worthwhile read. I gave it five stars, not because it's the greatest book I've ever read, but because it was the right book for me to read right now--there's something about where I am in my life that makes Gogol Ganguli's story resonate with me in a way that it probably wouldn't have when the book was first published.
Lahiri has a gift for capturing the emotio
...more
Grace Tjan
Jun 07, 2010 Grace Tjan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: ABCDs (American Born Confused Desis) and others who are similarly confused about their identity
Reading this book, I can’t help to be reminded of an Asian-American friend that I knew when I was a graduate student in an upstate New York university. I lived with several other foreign students from Asia in an off campus apartment, and by the end of my first semester, we found ourselves a nucleus for a small circle of variously hyphenated Asian Americans. Perhaps some of them were simply drawn to people who look like them, regardless of the differences in our backgrounds --- we were Indonesian ...more
Y
a disclaimer: i didnt like the movie.

lahiris brilliant ability to keep all of the various narratives flowing smoothly, to capture the nuances of immigrant life, to portray the absolute difficulty of living one life in front of friends, and one of life in front of parents, shielded a very matter-of-fact part of this book that i missed until i saw the film.

dude, gogol is an asshole.

and i dont mean in that, im trying to find my way kind of naivete; i mean he genuinely is a jerk, and treats the p
...more
Ercildoun
Michiko Kakutani begins her review for the New York Times, "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."

It's a novel about an immigrant family's imperfect assimilation into America. The story opens in 1968, as Nikhil's pregnant mother is mixing herself a Bengali American concoction of green chili peppers and Planters peanuts. It closes ju
...more
Skylar Burris
Not normally a reader of contemporary literary fiction, I was hesitant to tackle The Namesake. It was, however, recommended by multiple friends. Finding it to be written in present tense, something I normally detest in fiction, I hesitated once again. After a page or two, I ceased to notice and became lost in the story of one Indian family's struggle to assimilate to America, of generational differences, and of a young man's desire to pull away from his heritage and then back again.

I was impres
...more
Rachel
I came into this book figuring that I would like it, and I was not disappointed in the least. I took the book to work this week and spent my entire lunch hour on just one chapter, pouring over the exquisite descriptions of each scene exposited upon and the flow of the narration. I especially admire how Jhumpa, who covered decades in less than 300 pages, knew exactly which scenes to center on, and which to let roll by.

Not that this is overly important, but I found that the movie was more or less
...more
Emir Never
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachel
Jan 20, 2008 Rachel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for a fabulous, new author to follow
Recommended to Rachel by: Author Loyalty
Shelves: 2-loved-it
The perfect follow-up to her short story collection, Lahiri's The Namesake follows the story of Gogol and enraptures the reader as they struggle with him to come to terms with his Indian-American identity. As in Interpreter of Maladies, Lahiri's writing is descriptive and poetic, and her story is layered with character and emotion. After reading The Namesake, I became an absolute Lahiri worshiper and am happy to admit that I have been placed under her saffron-scented spell.
Marialyce
I truly liked this book and the author's easy, gentle way of telling a story. Time spent with this book passed easily and as one proceeded with the story of Googol, it became so apparent that his life was so reflective of many parents who have come to America and yet never really become Americans no matter how long they have been here. It was a sad story yet one of reconciliation between a father and his son. While reading, I could not help but feel sorry for the children who strove to be Americ ...more
Kevin
In the early 1960s, Ashoke Ganguli nearly died in his native India. The only thing that saved him, odd as it may sound, was a collection of short stories by Russian author Nikolai Gogol. Now, several years later and after having moved to the United States with his new wife, Ashima, Ashoke finds himself in a dilemma. In order to leave the hospital with their newborn son, they must provide administrators with a name for the baby. However, in keeping with Indian tradition, Ashoke and Ashima are wai ...more
Z
Aug 16, 2007 Z rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2007
First of all, I must say that Jhumpa Lahiri is an observer of human behaviour and an analyst of human nature like no other. A clear, compassionate voice presents a vast array of characters, each very different from the next, such that you can slip into the mould of any of their personalities and truly understand their motivations.

The Namesake is about Gogol Ganguli, born to Bengali parents in America, and the story of life as an ABCD -- the now-hackneyed American Born Confused Desi, an Indian in
...more
Denise
I am so glad I recently became interested in Indian writers, thanks to A Suitable Boy. Otherwise, I might never have read Jhumpa Lahiri. As a book seller with Borders, I shelved and tabled her books many many times but never felt compelled to read her. Serious error on my part! Lahiri is a wonderful writer.

I loved this story about parents who immigrated to the United States from India and how they carried forth their culture and traditions to their new life, much to their children's chagrin at t
...more
Cher
4 stars - It was great. I loved it.

About 1/2 way through my first Jhumpa Lahiri novel, I had already become a fan. Her prose is warm and effortless, making it easy to keep turning the pages without the need for gimmicky plot twists or outlandish happenings. She tells a fairly simple story in a very beautiful way.

The Namesake is a family drama that spans about 40 years. The author competently explores intermingling of cultures, family relationships, coming of age, and assimilation struggles. The
...more
☼~Marian~☼
Apr 08, 2013 ☼~Marian~☼ rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: to those who thinks of changing their names
Shelves: 2013, contemporary, india
"The reader should realize himself that it could not have happened otherwise, and that to give him any other name was quite out of the question." – Nikolai Gogol, "The Overcoat"

The book started with Ashima and Ashoke, a Bengali couple who migrated to United States and raised a family. In spite of being thousand of miles away from their home-country, families and friends; the couple still religiously practice their culture. One of which is the naming of their first child. His great grandmother's
...more
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
I really liked this book. Probably because I could relate so well with the characters in their feelings of not fitting in well with society, or confusion over roots, initial desire to be away from family, keenness to abide by the customs of the country they stay in rather than their native country, and so on.

I thought Jhumpa Lahiri so eloquently captured these confused feelings. I liked how she showed the maturity and growth of each character with the passage of time. I was especially interested
...more
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Did you find it worth reading or Just NAMESAKE 17 197 Nov 06, 2014 05:39PM  
What do Think About the character of Mousumi ?? 2 46 Aug 05, 2014 10:30AM  
Help.Question. Doing a comparison of the novel to the movie 5 65 Jan 08, 2014 07:03AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Book date incorrect 3 26 Sep 12, 2013 11:10AM  
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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 Un
...more
More about Jhumpa Lahiri...
Interpreter of Maladies Unaccustomed Earth The Lowland The Namesake: A Portrait of the Film Based on the Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri (Newmarket Pictorial Moviebooks) Hell-Heaven

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“That's the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.” 4934 likes
“They were things for which it was impossible to prepare but which one spent a lifetime looking back at, trying to accept, interpret, comprehend. Things that should never have happened, that seemed out of place and wrong, these were what prevailed, what endured, in the end.” 180 likes
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