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Namesake, The Hardcover – 6 Feb 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 291 pages
  • Publisher: James Bennett Pty Ltd; First Printing edition (6 Feb. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395927218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395927212
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 1.9 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,335,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"An exquisitely detailed family saga...More than fulfills the promise of Lahiri's Pulitzer-winning collection."

"What sets Lahiri apart is simple yet richly detailed writing that makes the heart ache as she meticulously unfolds the lives of her characters."

A Best Book of the Year: New York Times, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, Newsday, San Jose Mercury News.
New York Magazine Book of the Year

"Dazzling...An intimate, closely observed family portrait." "The New York Times
""Splendid." "Time" Magazine
"Hugely appealing." "People" Magazine
"What sets Lahiri apart is simple yet richly detailed writing that makes the heart ache as she meticulously unfolds the lives of her characters." "USA Today
"
A Best Book of the Year: New York Times, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, Newsday, San Jose Mercury News.
New York Magazine Book of the Year
"An exquisitely detailed family saga...More than fulfills the promise of Lahiri's Pulitzer-winning collection." "Entertainment Weekly" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

JHUMPA LAHIRIis the author of three books, most recently Unaccustomed Earth. Herdebut collection, "Interpreter of Maladies, " won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. She is the recipient ofa Guggenheim fellowship and herwork has been translated into twenty-nine languages. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Top Customer Reviews

By DDS VINE VOICE on 12 May 2005
Format: Paperback
The Namesake is Jhumpa Lahiri's first novel although it is her second book. Her first was the Interpreter of Maladies, a well received short story collection that won several awards. The Namesake follows the Ganguli family, the Bengali immigrants Ashima and Ashoke and their American-born children, over a period of 30 years. The main focus of the book is on their son, Gogol, born in 1968. Instead of being named by an elderly relative in India, a series of events unfold leading to him being named after his father's favourite author, the Russian Nikolai Gogol. This is the namesake of the title.
We follow Gogol throughout the first three decades of his life through his ups and downs, his childhood, his education, his relationships, his career and, most of all, his various identity crises. From an early age he belives that he doesn't really fit in, he feels that he alone in the entire world has Gogol as a first name. Also he embraces the American way of life, unlike his parents who try to keep to their traditional Indian way and this too causes him strife. Before going to college he invents a new identity for himself and changes his name to Nikhil, which is both suitably Indian but can be shortened to the more American Nick. Over time both he and his parents adjust their ways of thinking. His parents grow to enjoy American customs such as Christmas and the benefits of American life, while Nikhil embraces his Indian heritage.
The structure of the book seems to hark back to Interpreter of Maladies, it is written in almost a short story style, with different chapters being told from several different character perspectives. Fortunately this is tied together with consistent themes and a mainly constant cast of characters.
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Format: Paperback
A bit of a googly because I found it rather deceptive this book. It appears to be a well written, neatly structured story of a man's life from birth to, well, mediocrity and middle-age, but whilst the sentences are nicely composed and measured and the scenes are carefully constructed with colour and detail, the truth is there's no heart.

The story seems to be gathered on a thread (the life of Gogol, the namesake)with decorative beads, vignettes from a life story, but remains on a thread - the end product not excuisite jewelry. It's essentially episodic and rather disconnected, especially on an emotional level. The characters barely reflect on their history, the poigniant events of their past. It is all rather matter of fact.

It depicts life experienced as if in a dream: un-self-concious, unreflective. Just a succession of events. None of the characters appear curious enough to question these events, or attempt to put together the pieces.

It's no surprise the author has graduated from the short story form. For me, there is too much of what is to be enjoyed in a short story: atmospheric, well articulated scenes with shades of poetic ambiguity, left to the reader's interpretation. But not enough of what a novel should offer: character insight and development; a story co-ordinating with momentum, intensifying our identification with the characters through the growing weight of past actions and circumstance.

As the book progressed, even the sadder things just felt like yet further items on a supermarket conveyor belt.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some of the finest writing I've read. Lahiri gently draws you into her characters in a way that reminds me of Seth's writing in A Suitable Boy. She manages to exquisitely depict the complexities and nuances that exist within a single person. It is a poignant telling of the shifting of immigrants' identity and role within society, and of the conflicts arising in their offspring that strikes a particular chord with me as a second generation child in the UK. I look forward to reading more of her work.
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Format: Paperback
I was really looking forward to reading this, but gave up halfway through.I found the characters quite stereotypical and Gogal was a wimp-I had no sympathy at all for him. The story just did not seem to go anywhere, just a long-winded ramble about identity.It needed a bit of spice.
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By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 May 2006
Format: Paperback
There have been many novels about identity problems of immigrants and about how this adds to the traditional tensions between young people and their parents, when the young grow up in one culture while their parents retain behaviour patterns of the country they came from; but this novel is an exceptionally subtle treatment of this subject. The central figure, Gogol Ganguli, born in America to Bengali immigrant parents, has all these difficulties, in addition to labouring under a first name he dislikes, (and we learn how he came to be given that name). But he has another name, Nikhil, which he uses to distance himself from his family.

All the characters are beautifully and often tenderly drawn, and we learn a lot about Bengali customs. The book is mostly about Gogol' relationships during his first 32 years - with his parents and with a succession of young women. Those with the young women all end disappointingly for Gogol, and there is a wistful, melancholic, slightly depressing air about the book. There are long passages describing the surroundings of the characters in minute and evocative detail - whether it is the landscape, the weather or domestic interiors. The same detailed treatment is given to small every-day actions of the characters, although they often have little to do with the plot - almost as if they are as important as the emotional journeys that are at the heart of the book. In fact, I think, it distracts attention from that journey; and, together with Lahiri's use of the Historic Present throughout the novel (an irritating device for which I can see no particular reason), I felt just a little weary of the details and the style towards the end. But I still found it a book of considerable quality, which I am glad to have read.
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