May 30, 2008

Review: The Namesake

The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri

This is one of those books that I feel inadequate to review properly. I could never do it justice. Fortunately most of the book blog world already knows about this book and its greatness so my review can be brief.

Gogol Ganguli is the namesake but the book encompasses more than just his story as a confused Indian/American trying to find his place. It is just as much about his parents and their struggle as Bengali immigrants in America and how the two generations scrape against each other, never able to understand each other.

I appreciated the details that authenticated life for each character. To know everything that actually takes place, even those things that no one witnesses, even the deep down feels of self-doubt and regret that no one shares. While the story is about the inability of immigrants to really fit it, it could just as easily fit as a description for anyone who ever felt different; in other words everybody everywhere. None of us truly appreciates where we came from and none of us really feels totally like we fit in in the world around us. I think that is where the beauty of this story lies. You are the namesake and so am I.


Trish said...

I've had this book my my wishlist for so long! I'm glad you liked this one--it sounds like the type of book that will stay with you for a while.

Robin said...

I enjoyed this book, too, and appreciated his honesty and sensitivity in portraying the difficulties of adjusting to a new culture. I think you described it beautifully when you said "You are the namesake and so am I." It certainly touched the part of me that has experienced very similar feelings at one time or another in my life. Nice review!

Petunia said...

Trish-I watched the movie earlier in the year but didn't care much for it. The book is MUCH better.

Robin-I don't know if it was the author's intention of capturing every human's feelings of isolation and confusion but she did a marvelous job of it didn't she?

zibilee said...

Another great book by the same author is Interpreter of Maladies. If you haven't read it already, it is a bunch of short stories with a very interesting cast of characters. It won the Pulitzer prize as well. It was the first of hers that I read, and It inspired me to read all of her work. Incidentally, she just came out with another book of short stories that I've heard is very good, called Unaccustomed Earth.