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The Namesake

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  245,842 ratings  ·  12,584 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 September 16th 2003)
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Maria The Big Read program selects books that broaden "our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves." The Namesake fits that criteria in t…moreThe Big Read program selects books that broaden "our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves." The Namesake fits that criteria in that it takes place in three cities and two countries, and "examines the nuances involved with being caught between two conflicting cultures with highly distinct religious, social, and ideological differences." Written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and having been listed as a New York Times Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, and selected as one of the best books of the year by USA Today and Entertainment Weekly, the book has wide appeal to a large number of readers. (less)
Jordan Brown I really loved this book. It shows the struggles each generation has with each other and how that can work in a family where each generation is from a…moreI really loved this book. It shows the struggles each generation has with each other and how that can work in a family where each generation is from a different cultural experience. (less)

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Jul 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: indian-lit
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
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: india, fiction
In 2000, Jhumpa Lahiri won the Pulitzer Prize for her story collection Interpreter of Maladies, becoming the first Indian to win the award. In the last story, an engineering graduate student arrives in Cambridge from Calcutta, starting a life in a new country. This story is the basis for The Namesake, Lahiri's first full length novel where she weaves together elements from her own life to paint a picture of the Indian immigrant experience in the United States.

Ashoke and Ashmina Ganguli, recentl
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake (2003) is the first novel by American author Jhumpa Lahiri. It was originally a novel published in The New Yorker and was later expanded to a full-length novel. It explores many of the same emotional and cultural themes as her Pulitzer Prize-winning short story collection Interpreter of Maladies.

Moving between events in Calcutta, Boston, and New York City, the novel examines the nuances involved with being caught between two conflicting cultures with high
Nov 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012-reads
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
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
"He hates that his name is both absurd and obscure, that it has nothing to do with who he is, that it is neither Indian nor American but of all things Russian. He hates having to live with it, with a pet name turned good name, day after day, second after second… At times his name, an entity shapeless and weightless, manages nevertheless to distress him physically, like the scratchy tag of a shirt he has been forced permanently to wear."

Although on the surface, it appears that Gogol Ganguli’s tor
Diane S ☔
Aug 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed reading about the Bengali culture, their traditions, envied their sense and closeness of family. Ashima and Ashoke, an arranged marriage, moving to the USA where Ashoke is an engineer, trying to learn a different way of life, different language, so very difficult. Ashima misses her family, and after giving birth to a son misses them even more. They name their son, Gogol, there is a reason for this name, a name he will come to disdain. Eventually the family meets other Bengalis and they b ...more
I read this book on several plane journeys and while hanging around several airports. I'm putting the emphasis on ‘several’ because it took me a long time to read it even though I was in a hurry to finish. I was in a hurry, not because it was a page turner but because I really needed to get to the end.
And although I read it in relatively few days I still read it very very slowly. There are a lot of words in this book.

I love words. I can read words quite happily for hours as long as they don't c
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
Book subtitle: I will write down everything I know about a certain family of Bengali immigrants in the United States by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Immigrant anguish - the toll it takes in settling in an alien country after having bidden adieu to one’s home, family, and culture is what this prize-winning novel is supposed to explore, but it's no more than a superficial complaint about a few signature – and done to death - South Asian issues relating to marriage and paternal expectations: a clichéd immigrant s
Nice book on struggling with intercultural identities.

I stare and stare at that sentence. I can't believe that is all I have to say about this novel. After all, this is MY topic. This is my life. My profession. My passion. How do people fit into a dominant culture if their parents come from somewhere else? Which customs do they pick from which environment, and how do they adapt to form a crosscultural identity that works for them? How is their language affected by constant switching? Where - i
Mar 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
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
We first meet Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli in Calcutta, India, where they enter into an arranged marriage, just as their culture would expect. Ashoke is a professor in the United States and takes his bride to this foreign country where they try to assimilate into American life, while still maintaining their distinctly Bengali identities. When their first child is born, a son, they are awaiting a letter from Ashima’s grandmother telling them his name, which she is to have selected. In the absence of ...more
Mariah Roze
I read this book for my hometown book club. This book is an easy, smooth read. I've been wanting to read a book by Jhumpa Lahiri for a long time and I'm glad the opportunity finally arised. I now have put all the other books that my library has by her on hold.

I think part of the reason I connected so much with this book is because my best friend from college was an immigrant at age 6 from India. Her parents are traditional in a country that is completely different than theirs. They would like th
Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is just not about the name given to the main character.

The story is more than that.

I would say this book deals more with family and relationships rather than just what it has been promoted as.

This book definitely handled well the father-son relationship that is quite realistic in the Indian society. It's rather quite accurately described the way the father and the grown-up son trying to re-establish the father-son dynamic years after.

It also described well the life of the main chara
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
As I read this book, a Mexican-American family sold their home across the street from mine, and an Italian-American couple moved in three houses down. With the book still open on my lap, somewhere in New York City, while walking and talking on her cellphone, my mother laid out a plan for me to help her find a place that was close to her friends from 'back home,' but still somewhere around city amenities. I was immediately forced to consider how my mother is similar to Ashima, the matriarch of he ...more
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Namesake follows a Bengali couple, who move to the USA in the 60s. Ashoke is a trained engineer, who quickly adapts to his new lifestyle. His wife Ashima deeply misses her family and struggles to adapt. Following the birth of her children, she pines for home even more.

Her two children grow up feeling more connected to America than India, and view their visits there as a chore. The elder child, Gogol is the main character. He struggles with his identity, and detests his unusual name. The book
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Elif Shafak & Ann Patchett
★★★★✰ 4.25 stars

“In so many ways, his family's life feels like a string of accidents, unforeseen, unintended, one incident begetting another.”

In the past few years I've read and fallen in love with Jhumpa Lahiri's collection of short stories as well as her book on her relationship with the Italian language In Other Words. Although The Namesake has been sitting on my shelf for the last couple months, when it was chosen as one of the February reads for the 'Around the World in 80 Books' group, I
Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
Jan 16, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: novels

[Review redacted in hindsight.]
Aug 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Feb 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, novel-company
3.5 stars My favorite parts of any Jhumpa Lahiri story—whether it's a short story or novel—are her observations. She's so great creating realistic, emotionally-charged moments in her novels that feel so true to life. That being said, I think she excels at crafting narratives in the short story format. Both novels I've read from her have had wonderful and memorable moments but as a whole fall a little flat for me. The use of the third-person, present tense is also not my favorite because it convi ...more
Usman Hickmath
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Being a foreigner, is a sort of lifelong pregnancy—a perpetual wait, a constant burden, a continuous feeling out of sorts. It is an ongoing responsibility, a parenthesis in what had once been ordinary life, only to discover that that previous life has vanished, replaced by something more complicated and demanding. Like pregnancy, being a foreigner, is something that elicits the same curiosity from strangers, the same combination of pity and respect.”

Those lines vouch for how beautifully Jhumpa
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book tells a story which must be familiar to anyone who has migrated to another country - the fact that having made the transition to a new culture you are left missing the old and never quite achieving full admittance into the new. In fact a feeling of never quite belonging to either.
This is the experience for Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli and it is probably made worse by the fact that India and America have such totally different cultures. The story follows their lives for 32 years from when
Jul 26, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tatiana by: 1001 List
Shelves: dnf, foreign-lands, 1001
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.
Such a great book. My second book by Lahiri and it did not disappoint. Her writing is beautiful and lyrical. I did see this movie many times as it is a favorite. Even though I know the story, the book seemed new to me. The audio version was so easy to listen to. I an fascinated by Indian culture and love reading about it. I can see myself reading this one over and over again and will be watching the movie again very soon.
Iris P

So an Idaho School District is considering the possibility of banning The Namesake from their high schools reading list.

I don't know about other parents, but I trust that my kids are not going to read this beautiful novel and somehow plunge into a life of drug abuse...

Also, I might be mistaken since I read it a few years ago, but I don't recall that the use of recreational drugs is an essential part of the plot of this novel...
Garg Ankit
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri vividly describes the lives and the plight of the immigrant families, with a focus on Indians settled in America.

The book revolves around the common themes that this subject entails, mainly the immigrant experience as a whole, which includes the multi-cultured lives the families (especially the kids) lead, which then leads to being the basis of a queer relationship among the generations - the so called 'generation gap' which in this case is majorly affected by the c
Always Pouting
I don't really have strong feelings on this one. It wasn't bad but I wouldn't say it was great. It feels like one of those books that I read and forget about after. It was quite easy to get through but I think it was more slice of life so it was mundane at quite a few points. It wasn't a unique perspective for me personally so I didnt get that out of it like other people seemed to. It felt familiar and I feel like the themes in the books are ones that come up a lot in South Asian narratives. I t ...more
The Namesake starts by introducing a Bengali couple, Ashoke and Ashima. Their marriage had been arranged by their parents, still customary in Bengali society in the 1960s. They are living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ashoke is pursuing a career in engineering. His wife, feeling isolated and alone, misses terribly friends and family in Calcutta, which she still considers “home”. In 1968, their first child is born. The story is primarily about him--we follow him through to his early thirties.

A ce
Julie Ehlers
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies was a collection I admired more than I enjoyed, so I’m sorry to say I was apprehensive about reading her first full-length novel—but happy to report that it was an absolutely great experience. The Namesake is one of those books that works so well, so seamlessly, that it's hard to break it down into its various moving parts. I absolutely loved the characters (in fact, I flat-out longed for Gogol’s sister to have her own book, so intriguing did I find even the mino ...more
Oct 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
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Nilanjana Sudeshna "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 d

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