Anna's Reviews > The Namesake

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jul 08, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: indian-lit
Read in December, 2006

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 balcony smoking cigarettes and marveling at the concept of an arranged marriage in the new millennium. This book made me understand her a little bit better, her choice in marriage and other aspects of our briefly shared lives, like: her putting palm oil in her hair, the massive Dutch oven that was constantly blowing steam, or her mother living with us for 3 months.
This is after all the story of an Indian growing up American and the cultural adaptations and clashes that color his life. Perspective shifting from parent to child and back again, it’s an engaging view of an immigrant family in America. Gogol hates his name, and the Bengali traditions that are forced on him since childhood. The reader follows him through adolescence into adulthood where his history and his family affect his relationships with women more than anything else.
As much as this book was heralded for its exploration of the immigrant experience, as any truly great piece of literature, its lessons are universal... Anyone who has ever been ashamed of their parents, felt the guilty pull of duty, questioned their own identity, or fallen in love, will identify with these intermingling lives. The pace in which she tells it is exactly equal to looking back on the memories of a life lived. Skimming over the mundane, she punctuates the cherished memories and life changing events that are now somewhat hazy.
It is a superb first novel.
251 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Namesake.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

02/07/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Mimi (new)

Mimi Maybe not a dutch oven, but a pressure cooker?

Anna Mimi wrote: "Maybe not a dutch oven, but a pressure cooker?"
You're right!

Colette Anna....this is an incredible review. I just started reading it. Did you happen to watch the movie? If so, did it do the book justice?

message 4: by Dheeraj (new) - added it

Dheeraj Kaushik Movies in general dont do justice to the book itself...same goes here.

Colette Dheeraj wrote: "Movies in general dont do justice to the book itself...same goes here."

Dheeraj....thanks for the comment. I read this quite a few months ago and did watch the movie. I enjoyed both but for very different reasons. You are indeed right. Movies in general can not compare to a book but I find that the longer time passes between the time I read a book and then watch it's movie the better chance I have of appreciating the movie.

message 6: by Anna (last edited Oct 12, 2013 07:45AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anna Colette- Thank you so much for your kind words!
I haven't seen the movie yet. I agree that a time gap between reading and viewing helps me appreciate the movie more. Perhaps enough time has passed now to watch the movie.

I also find that I can appreciate both if I watch the movie first. The book always surprises me with its depth and the differences between character depictions. I'm usually not disappointed.

Colette You're welcome Anna! You are right about seeing a movie first....when you have nothing to compare it to you are much more able to let it stand on its own merit. It was nice chatting! I hope to come across more of your reviews!

Terry Fernandes While this novel certainly captures the poignancy of growing up caught between two cultures, I am not as much a fan of Jhumpa Lahiri's writing as many are. Sometimes the American cultural references, which I remember well from the 1980s, for instance, feel like too much; and her use of the passive, while chosen deliberately, I have no doubt, is a bit overdone. I enjoyed getting to know Gogol and found the story mostly satisfying, but it doesn't get a top rating from me.

Kathy Great review. Thank you for sharing your personal experience.

message 10: by Sakshi (new) - added it


message 11: by Virginia (new) - added it

Virginia A great review and I have ordered the book. Sometimes it is difficult to understand cultures different from ours.

message 12: by Uzma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Uzma Shaikh Awesome review!!! I love your choice of words and your description.THANKS :)

Tracey Hook Beautifully written!

message 14: by Beth (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth Thanks for taking the time to write this great and spot-on review! I am about 70 pages in and I am really enjoying it

Christina Nichols Great review and I totally agree..

Hilal Kalkavan very well written review, also I think your use of language resembles Lahiri's

message 17: by David (new) - added it

David Dontele The dictions applied are highly recommendable....

Mujeeb You wrote beautifully about a nice book

message 19: by Vishal Kanala (new)

Vishal Kanala I am going to read this for my book club! It sounds like a good read.

message 20: by Julia (new) - added it

Julia Saldanha Very well-written reflections on how this book touches different aspects of our relationships - eg the parent-child dynamics. To answer an earlier question - rarely is a movie as good as a book but in this case it is.

back to top