What does your name say about you? Everybody has a legacy and every name has a history. Jhumpa Lahiri focuses her novel The Namesake on the Ganguli’s,...moreWhat does your name say about you? Everybody has a legacy and every name has a history. Jhumpa Lahiri focuses her novel The Namesake on the Ganguli’s, a Bengalese family from Calcutta, and their journey to make a life in America. Ashoke and Ashima come to Massachusetts after their arranged marriage, starting a new life and a family. Naming their children is a tedious process and an important part of imparting their family legacy on future generations. Instead of giving their first born an Indian name or even and Americanized version of a family name, Ashoke names his son for his favorite Russian author, Gogol. Throughout the story we follow the Ganguli’s, particularly Gogol who struggles to find his way in the world as an American born Indian with a seemingly senseless name. Gogol’s life seems to follow the odd legacy that his name has placed on him.
This book shows the struggle of growing up as a first generation American to immigrant parents who struggle to maintain their heritage while conforming to a new society. Lahiri shows well how conflicted a person can be that is born and raised in America, following the culture and social norms of the country, but whose parents are expecting them to also follow their familial legacy. I found this book moving and emotional. I can only imagine how hard it is to move to a country so very different from my own. Like the Ganguli’s, I would expect to surround myself with other people from my home country. After reading this book, I realize that it likely would be harder to be the children of immigrants who really only know of the country they grew up in. Returning to the “home country” every few years for a few weeks or months really would only seem like a vacation to a foreign country and not a visit to a place that you “know”. For that generation, I can see how it might seem like you’re turning your back on your heritage when you’re really just trying to find your way in the only place you've known as home. Lahiri excellently portrays that struggle. My only really complaint is that there didn't seem to be a real defined plot line. It was more of snippets in the life of the Ganguli’s from different points of view within the family. It is a neat concept and a nice change, but I felt a bit like it left me hanging in the end with no real closure. I am anxious to watch the movie now, as it seems like many think that they movie does a better job at bringing the story full circle. (less)
Cracking India relates the events of the partition (i.e. cracking) of India and Pakistan. Bapsi Sidhwa uses the event to discuss the political and rel...moreCracking India relates the events of the partition (i.e. cracking) of India and Pakistan. Bapsi Sidhwa uses the event to discuss the political and religious upheaval at the time between the different groups of India such as the Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. The central character is Lenny a young Indian girl with polio. Besides interacting with her parents and brothers, she grows close with her nanny and the men who visit her. The story also helps the reader to understand the atrocities happening during the time like violence against women and forced castration.
I didn't totally dig this book. It was interesting and brought to light the issue of violence against women, that I didn't know as much about; however, I thought the writing was sporadic, in that at times the story was very clear and other times I was a bit lost. I didn't have a clear picture of the characters or what was happening and the political debate was not completely understandable. I think this is a better book for someone that is familiar with the partition/events. I knew some of it so I was able to follow most of the story. I think if I had known nothing about events of the time I would have not liked the book at all. I suspect that it is better as a movie. Deepa Mehta related the story in the movie Earth.(less)
I went to college with Wade. It was a great insight into the life of this college chum and how difficult it is to grow up gay in rural Missouri. I am...moreI went to college with Wade. It was a great insight into the life of this college chum and how difficult it is to grow up gay in rural Missouri. I am glad that Wade has been able to find himself and happiness.(less)
I think that Sarah Ban Breathnach wrote this book during a darker time in her life when she was still possibly bitter from her divorce. Something More...moreI think that Sarah Ban Breathnach wrote this book during a darker time in her life when she was still possibly bitter from her divorce. Something More: Excavating Your Authentic Self is a follow up to her first book Simple Abundance, a book about finding your authentic self and what truly makes you happy. This is a daily (or almost daily) secular devotional on self-awareness. Something More tells us that this authentic self, i.e. our true happiness, lies beyond something more. So, wait....we're not happy knowing ourselves better...we have to go beyond that before we can be truly happy? What?
I really was disappointed in this one. With Simple Abundance and Romancing the Ordinary, I came away with thought-provoking ideas and activities, and could find joy in everyday life. I constantly remember to find the good within the bad and to count the things that I am grateful for, especially when life is frustrating. With Something More, I felt like Breathnach was constantly bitching and moaning about all the crap that she's had to deal with especially a failed marriage. Many of the passages seemed depressing and I felt that she wanted the reader to see all that was bad but never really showed all that was good. Skip this one. I think Breathnach Simple Abundance journey has run its course.(less)