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Namesake
by J Lahiri
Binding: Library Binding, 291 pages
Publisher: Rebound by Sagebrush
Weight: 0.95 pound
Dimension: H: 1 x L: 8.25 x W: 5.5 inches
ISBN 10: 141764785X
ISBN 13: 9781417647859
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Book Description:
Debut novel from the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies Jhumpa Lahiri's elegant collection Interpreter of Maladies took as its subject matter the lives of Indians in exile, of people navigating between the strict traditions they've inherited and the baffling New World they must encounter every day. The Namesake, in a similar vein, is the story of a Bengali exile in Boston, from 'a dazzling storyteller, the kind of writer who makes you want to grab the next person you see and say 'Read this!'' (AMY TAN) /Content /EditorialReview EditorialReview Source Amazon.com Review /Source Content Any talk of The Namesake Jhumpa Lahiri's follow up to her Pulitzer Prize winning debut, Interpreter of Maladies must begin with a name: Gogol Ganguli. Born to an Indian academic and his wife, Gogol is afflicted from birth with a name that is neither Indian nor American nor even really a first name at all. He is given the name by his father who, before he came to America to study at MIT, was almost killed in a train wreck in India. Rescuers caught sight of the volume of Nikolai Gogol's short stories that he held, and hauled him from the train. Ashoke gives his American born son the name as a kind of placeholder, and the awkward thing sticks.

Awkwardness is Gogol's birthright. He grows up a bright American boy, goes to Yale, has pretty girlfriends, becomes a successful architect, but like many second generation immigrants, he can never quite find his place in the world. There's a lovely section where he dates a wealthy, cultured young Manhattan woman who lives with her charming parents. They fold Gogol into their easy, elegant life, but even here he can find no peace and he breaks off the relationship. His mother finally sets him up on a blind date with the daughter of a Bengali friend, and Gogol thinks he has found his match. Moushumi, like Gogol, is at odds with the Indian American world she inhabits. She has found, however, a circuitous escape: 'At Brown, her rebellion had been academic ... she'd pursued a double major in French. Immersing herself in a third language, a third culture, had been her refuge she approached French, unlike things American or Indian, without guilt, or misgiving, or expectation of any kind.' Lahiri documents these quiet rebellions and random longings with great sensitivity. There's no cleverness or showing off in The Namesake, just beautifully confident storytelling. Gogol's story is neither comedy nor tragedy; it's simply that ordinary, hard to get down on paper commodity: real life. Claire Dederer


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