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The Namesake
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September 2019: Cultural > The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri - 2 Stars

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Jason Oliver | 2063 comments This books seems to be one you love, 4-5 stars or one you hate 1-2 stars. It seems to be loved by the PBT group but I did not enjoy it, taking me 7 days to read an under 300 page book.

This is supposed to be the story about an 1st generation American, children to immigrant Indian parents....and it is. But even more so, I found the book to be about selfishness.

Jhumpa Lahiri is a wonderful author and I loved Interpreter of Maladies, however I did not like her style of story telling in The Namesake.

The story is 3rd person present tense which I found a little abnormal but nothing major, then the story is filled with endless, useless, details. At times, I felt I was reading list after list of surroundings, feelings, or actions. The book, which spans many years, apparently only takes place in the winter. Every time outdoors the air was too cold and biting. I don't know why, but this started to bother.

And now the story. The main character, though the story changes points of view a few times, is just plain selfish and I struggled to fester an ounce of empathy for him.

(view spoiler)

I am glad I have finally finished the book but am not glad I read it.


Theresa | 7414 comments I am one who really loved the book when I read it. But I find myself having difficulty months later remembering it, to the point of having to think to pull up the plot when I see the title. I don't go back and downgrade my reviews ... but it does tell me that it may have been a great read at the time but is not a great read in the long term sense.

Another telling indication that perhaps it was less than I initially thought -- I never talk about it when discussing books with friends or recommend it when friends are looking for books to read.


message 3: by Hebah (new) - added it

Hebah (quietdissident) | 675 comments I read this back when it came out and remember really enjoying it. But I'm also of a second-generation background, and Gogol's push-pull conflict with his background and wanting to assimilate for part of his life but not wanting to lose himself and his culture at the end, all of that, really resonated for me. I'm a different sort of confused these days, but that's another story :).


Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Hebah wrote: "I read this back when it came out and remember really enjoying it. But I'm also of a second-generation background, and Gogol's push-pull conflict with his background and wanting to assimilate for p..."

I am glad this book spoke to you. I do not have a second generation background so all I have is imagination and talking with people I know that are second generation (I have some friends from Gujarat and where I live has a large Gujarat population as well as Hispanic population).

I guess its not so much the inner conflict I disliked. Its his actions and how he expressed this turmoil and the blame he liked to place that left me with no empathy. But then again, I just might not fully comprehend.


Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Theresa wrote: "I am one who really loved the book when I read it. But I find myself having difficulty months later remembering it, to the point of having to think to pull up the plot when I see the title. I don't..."

What I will remember the most is so many people loving this book and me feeling like I'm missing something. I know we all don't like the same things, but I hate that feeling.


Theresa | 7414 comments Jason wrote: "What I will remember the most is so many people loving this book and me feeling like I'm missing something. I know we all don't like the same things, but I hate that feeling..."

Ah, now see, I don't let that bother me. I absolutely, against the stream, loathed Wolf Hall, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, There There and The Catcher in the Rye. Both Catcher in the Rye and Hitchhiker were only read as a mature adult so I *might* have loved them if I'd read them as a young teen ... but somehow I doubt it.

In fact, in some ways I revel in being against the stream occasionally. Makes for interesting discussions.


Anita Pomerantz | 6543 comments Aww, so sorry this one wasn't for you. I was in the love camp though honestly my recollection of why is hazy. I am always a bit astounded when I dislike a book that others love . . .but each reader brings their own experiences to a story, and some just don't resonate or interest us.


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5572 comments I loved Interpreter of Maladies. I read it three times, and I especially respect the approach she took to make it a whole piece of work, without creating cultural stereotypes.

I was disappointed that I didn't love Namesake. I don't remember much about it other than he was an unhappy and self-centered boy. (I tend to accept that in young people.) I don't know if I disliked him as an adult though. I didn't notice the winter scenes at all, but oddly, I know that I read Three Junes around the same time.


Jason Oliver | 2063 comments NancyJ wrote: "he was an unhappy and self-centered boy. (I tend to accept that in young people.)."

Yes, this is how I felt and though I give some leadway for young people, I kept waiting for a turn. Though what he wanted turned, I didn't feel like his unhappiness and self-centeredness (? word) changed.


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