Skylar Burris's Reviews > The Namesake

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
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's review
Dec 23, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: literary-fiction
Read in January, 2007

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 impressed by the way the author was able to make me sympathize with each of the main characters (except Gogol's wife, whom I could not seem to care about), even though each held very different views on assimilation. I was also awed by the way in which she could use normal, every day details—of childhood, school life, travel, etc.—to define characters and elicit my emotions. Simple, ordinary details that would normally seem dull to me had me at times nearly crying, and I don't know how she did it. I think it is the cumulated effect of the characters she has crafted that allows these individual moments to impact me as a reader.

The book, like so much modern literary fiction, is at times overwhelmingly depressing, but with a note of hope at the end.

You don't have to be an immigrant to relate to the book, however, because the author also captures beautifully the tug of war between generations, the bittersweet pain of letting go of your children and watching them find their own way in life.
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booklady Excellent review Skylar! It was a good book, wasn't it?! You do a beautiful job here of re-creating the book's significance as a work of literature and an experience. Thank you!


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