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The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Discussion in 'Book Lovers' started by jothi, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. jothi

    jothi Senior IL'ite

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    Hi Friends,

    Here is a book that I had the chance to read very recenlty and I found myself hooked on to the story and the characters. The story was very simple but beautifully written. This was written by a second generation Indian author settled in America. The story is also about an Indian family in Amercia. I dont want to give away anymore of the details for all the prospective readers of this book.

    Is there anyone who has read this book? . I'd love to discuss it.
    If there's anyone interested in reading here is the detail again.
    The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.

    Hope you all will enjoy it as much as I did.

    Love,
    Jothi.
     
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  2. vidyasarada

    vidyasarada Senior IL'ite

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    Hi Jothi

    I have read Jhumpa Lahiri's first book, a collection of short stories ( nine or ten) under the Name " Interpreter Of Maladies" It had won the Pulitzer prize. Actually I dint read all the stories in it, because halfway through, I started getting the feeling that I was not really connecting to her experience . Almost all her stories are about alienation a native feels in a foreign land and of the anguish of trying to fit in.

    I did like her gentle way of describing things. Also her observations of character's reactions are very keen and precise. But I got the feeling she was writing solely for a foreign audience.

    The Namesake, I heard is becoming a movie. I have not read it, but would love to hear your review of it.

    VS
     
  3. jothi

    jothi Senior IL'ite

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    Dear VS,

    Thankyou for replying. I can relate to Jhumpa Lahiri and to The Namesake cause I am also like the character in the story, trying to live a life in America but wanting to go back to India.

    A young Indian girl gets married to an Indian man who is an engineer and student in Boston. The story is about their life in America and how thier kids grow up here. The author goes into incredible details of the sons life who is the main character of the story. The sons name is Gogol named after his father's favorite author. The intricate details of Gogols life are very intriguing and scary at the same time. I am sure most Indian mothers here in America would agree with me in saying that.
    Even though Gogol's mother tries to keep him under her wing trying to keep him away from dating and other things that most teenagers here do, Gogol manages to try everything right under his parents' nose even without them knowing. I predicted the end of the story, midway thru the story.
    I am sure many Indian families here in America can relate to this story and many indian moms have the same fear of their kids falling for the peer pressure of dating, sex, smoking and drugs. I also know that many moms in India also might have the same fear cause India is also becoming more westernised. Hope I can discuss this more with all the other ILites.

    I dont want to disclose the end of the story yet.

    Love,
    jothi.
     
  4. Kamla

    Kamla IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Jothi...

    I read Jhumpa Lahiri's Namesake a long time back. Hence the memory of the book is a bit hazy. I also have her 'Interpreter of Maladies' which was very popular for winning the Pulitzer prize. I think almost every Indian rushed to get that book and read because of the author's Indian roots. I am not a very good critic of books, I either like them or don't and have never really analyzed as to why. I am making an effort now, thanks to Varalotti and the book discussions we seem to have here from time to time.
    Even I took my own time to read through her first book of short stories. The stories paint a picture of dismal gray and it does not suit my temperament:)
    I did enjoy reading Namesake. It was written well, her language is smooth and her writing lucid. But I don't think it will fall under my favorite book category. I did have a feeling of deja vu while reading...was it because of me being an immigrant housewife too? I don't know. This book is highly popular amongst the Indian folk (esp. women) abroad for the obvious reasons. Some really love it and some think it is over rated. I belong to the latter.
    I don't think the book is a master piece. There is a certain gloom which hovers over the book and that did not appeal to me. But then, I am writing about my personal connection with the book. I have antagonized many with my views on this book as my friends are simply in love with this book! Because of the Indian characters and their totally Indian feelings that are elaborated in this book, the book is often compared to some Russian classics by the foreign critics. And may be because of the exact same reasons, the book failed to rob my heart?!
    It starts off very interestingly with Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli. Just as I got really into their life and travails and my curiosity and angst for Ashima arose, there is nothing more to know. The scene totally shifts to the unending adventures of Gogol who comes across as a loser, as far as I am concerned! I really did not understand what his problem was all about, he was given everything by his patient and concerned parents. So what was his problem?:) We hardly hear much about his sister.
    I thought Ms Lahiri brings in many characters and incidents, but somehow they are all left off without being given the full due. The book left me feeling a little impatient and unsatisfied. There was more, much more to be said, but it ends abruptly. I felt a bit cheated for not having more of and more about Ashima. And no, I was not identifying with her on any account.
    Also, like Vidyasarada rightly said, it is all about the ex-patriots of India and that might hold appeal to only some.
    Well, that was my views about the book. I hope I have not infuriated Jhumpa's fans with these words! I too am looking forward to other's views and would be interesting to know what I missed out.

    L, Kamla
     
  5. Nirmala85

    Nirmala85 New IL'ite

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    I also read the book Namesake bu jhumpa Lahiri. It is a very good book written in simple English. I didn't feel like putting the book down. It's fiction and it was good to read. I highly recommend this book for anyone to read.
     
  6. jothi

    jothi Senior IL'ite

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    Dear Kamla,

    Thankyou very much for posting your views on the book and about the author. You are entitled to ur views. That is what I love about books. The author puts forth a story and it is upto the readers to like it or not.
    I totally agree with you about feeling dejavu. I think it is the immigrant feeling in us that hits when we read the book.

    I think Lahiri talks about Gogol more than anybody else in the story cause he is the main character and the reason for the name fo the book The namesake. Gogol does not strike to me as a loser but like a typical confused desi kid, who tries to fit in to an indian family and also be an american outside of the family. I feel many of our indian kids are in the same situation as Gogol.

    I do agree with you that nothing was said much about the sister. But I feel the author did portray Ashima's character to my expectation. I was shocked to read about Gogol and his college life at Yale and his life as a teenager. I guess I have to face reality and wake up to the fact that I live in America and not in India. But then, I realise that India is catching up with the western world in this aspect pretty fast.

    I guess it is upto us parents to lead our kids in the right direction, and whatever life they chose, we have to accept that and bless them just like Ashima did in the story.

    Love,
    jothi.
     
  7. jothi

    jothi Senior IL'ite

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    Nirmala,

    I am glad that you like the book just like me.I recommend this book to others too.

    jothi.
     
  8. aishu22

    aishu22 Gold IL'ite

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    Hi all,
    Happened to read the Namesake by Jhumpa lahiri day berfore yesday - finished it today. It was a wonderful book indeed!
     
  9. Shobanag

    Shobanag Bronze IL'ite

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    Hi all

    I personally loved the book - and here is why. First I think it bought to light the issue of our kids growing up in a culture that is totally different from their parents. As the parent of a teenage daughter, I will tell you that it felt like I was living it at certain times! I also feel that the author captured the feelings and emotions of Ashima and Ashok very well -as a person who was brought up outside India, she was able to put herself in the role of a parent and I felt that was done very well. My daughter also read the book and was in tears - she felt that she could relate to Gogol so very much. We can give directions to our children about their roots and culture and what our beleifs are - to what extent they will accept is a totally different issue. I agree that I would have liked to know more about Sonia's character - which the author did not go into. The movie version was very good - it kept to the storyline of the book.
     
  10. sindhujav

    sindhujav New IL'ite

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    hello all,

    I like the book very much.I heard that they are making a movie of the same story.I recommend it to others also.

    Sindhu
     

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