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The Namesake Paperback – 28 July 2004
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- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-0006551805
- ISBN-10 : 0006551807
- Product Dimensions : 13 x 1.93 x 19.71 cm
- Publisher : 4th Estate - GB (28 July 2004)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: 31,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
‘Extraordinary…a book that spins gold out of the straw of ordinary lives. The calm, pellucid grace of her prose, the sustained stretch of crystal clear writing, its elegant pianissimo tone, pulls the reader from beginning to end in one neat arc. Every detail, every observation, every sentence rings with the clarity of truth. The Namesake is a novel that makes its reader feel privileged to be allowed access to its immensely empathetic world.' The Times
‘The kind of writer who makes you want to grab the next person and say "Read this!"' Amy Tan
'Impeccably written' Daily Mail
'Gracious….in refined, empathetic prose…each of Lahiri's characters patches together their own identity, making this resonant fable neither uniquely Asian nor uniquely American, but tenderly, wryly human.' Hephzibah Anderson, The Observer
‘This is certainly a novel that explores the concepts of cultural identity, of rootlessness, of tradition and familial expectation…but …it never succumbs to the cliches those themes so often entail. Instead, Lahiri turns it into something both larger and simpler: the story of a man and his family, of his life and hopes, loves and sorrows. She has a talent – magical, sly, cumulative – that most writers would kill for.’ Julie Myerson, The Guardian
‘Jhumpa Lahiri’s excellent first novel… is the work of a fine writer, discriminating, compassionate and surprising. It is, too, a story for our times.’ Rachel Cusk, Evening Standard
‘A joy to read.’ Sunday Telegraph
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Top reviews from Australia
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Quite absorbing. It also introduced me to the life of expatriates, and the brilliant -in vivid colour - of Bengali life. The steady role of Gogol’s mother was very interesting, from arranged marriage to living in an extraordinarily different culture, and the compromises and adaptations this involved. Gogol himself, his emotions, thoughts and actions, is observed dispassionately. In some ways this reduces his impact as a man, but the main question and issue is resolved well, as he waits for the next stage in his life.
Top reviews from other countries
Grappling with this awkward and unexplainable handle, Gogol ploughs through his serious days. Removed from India to the USA, his parents seem apologetic and nervous of the outside world; yet urgently needing to fit in and to recreate the warm, accepting, encircling love they left behind with their large family. Longing for their distanced relations suffuses the lives of Ashoke and Ashima. All the same they are determined to make a success of their new situation, well prepared to quietly sacrifice deep set parts of their make up for the happiness of Gogol and his sister Sonia, aka Sonali. In a way they are all children, newly born to the American life. Understanding of his parents' sacrifice comes late to Gogol; as a child he has a foot in both camps having naturally become more American than Bengali. Children can as we know, be cruel.
Wistful moments abound. The story become unexpectedly, for me, entirely touching. Having a short name and a long name is quite usual, I know the feeling of not recognising my proper name in the first days of school. For the Bengali tradition there is a 'good' name and a given one. One is used privately, the other for the outside world. Through a little mishap this process goes awry for Gogol. Thereafter he feels ill at ease with himself and it is this that sets him apart more than his race it seems. So what a challenge it can be to come to terms with an ill fitting label. Somehow it seems to colour his place in life and his success in relationships. Being Gogol is a tough row to hoe. Luckily Nikhil rides to his rescue, his other name. It is fascinating to know what actually makes someone physically change their 'christian' name - 'The Namesake' deftly offers an explanation for this intriguing mystery.
The phenomenon of rather falling in love with other families happens to Gogol, when he is accepted by the parents of one girlfriend quite completely. This is a rite of passage I think for young people, when they are emerging into their own personalities and deciding the kind of life they will choose. A form of disloyalty to the birth family but an educational process all the same.
The fortunes and misfortunes of Gogol/Nikhil and his nearest and dearest are beautifully described. Life happens to them; when they are busy making other plans. How they cope and re emerge from troubles keeps you reading with attachment and empathy. You can seem them all from all sides and love them for it. A most absorbing read. I have been advised that it is also a wonderful film. The Namesake [DVD] [2006 ]