What’s In A Name?

The Namesake; Jhumpa Lahiri; Mariner Books

Review by Susan Thomas

From the impeccable writing style of Jhumpa Lahiri comes a well-chiseled story of the cultural and generational gap between immigrant parents and their American-born son.

Born to Bengali parents, Ashima & Ashoke Ganguli, Gogol is bestowed with the famous Russian novelist’s name because of his father’s personal bond with The Overcoat, his mother’s lost-in-transit letter from Calcutta and the Bengali tradition of giving family members unique names.

His American identity clashes, not only with his parent’s conservative Indian values, but also with a distinctive name that becomes a source of bitter embarrasment. In a desperate move to fit into the Ivy League world, he swiftly changes his name to Nikhil. He assumes the name “Nikhil” pleases his Bengali parents and can be shortened to “Nick” to assimilate into his American girlfriend’s lifestyle. However, he fails to realize that the name “Gogol” hold a special place in his father’s heart.

The story progresses into Nick’s career, marriage, divorce and the constant pressure to appease both cultures. Lahiri does an excellent job of weaving cultural differences with the true reason for the name ‘Gogol’ and each generation’s idea of being re-born in a new country.

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Rating: 7.5/10 (4 votes cast)
What's In A Name? , 7.5 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

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This entry was posted on Sunday, September 26th, 2010 at 11:09 am and is filed under Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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