Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Makna Sebuah Nama (The Namesake)The Namesake is a novel by Pulitzer prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri. Set in late 20th century New England and New York City, it is a coming of age story of the Ganguli family, an immigrant family from India. Gogol Ganguli is hastily named for a Russian writer, and we see how this family decision effects the way he lives his life. We also see the impact moving to America has had on the rest of the family. We see the family develop through births, deaths, marriage, and divorce.

Lahiri has a wonderfully fluid and descriptive prose style that is warm and genuine. Her descriptions of the smallest details throughout the story lead the reader to believe that she has experienced this rich story herself. Her characterizations are rich, and by the end of the story, the reader knows the characters as well as the author must.

Lahiri switches from character to character to view the story and timeline from each person’s perspective. One criticism is that we do not fully understand each character's reaction to some of the events in the story. For example, we do not see Gogol mother’s reaction to pitfalls in his life. One can imagine the emotions any mother would have, and yet, Lahiri does not describe these reactions.

I am greatly looking forward to reading more by this author. I have her story collection, Interpreter of Maladies (for which she won the 2000 Pulitzer) on my list of 100 books for the Fill-in-the-Gaps project. I also now plan to read Unaccustomed Earth as well because I have heard that it is even better than this one.

This book review is also on my blog Reading and Writing about It.

8 comments:

hamilcar barca said...

the one thing i've noticed about Pulitzer prize-winning authors & books : they always depict a slice of life in America, yet those "slices" are told from richly diverse viewpoints. i've read Pulitzer novels showing cajun, Black, and post-apocalyptic life. now it looks like it's time to go find a Lahiri book at the store/library and get a taste of Indian-American culture.

Amanda said...

I really can't wait to read something by Jhumpa Lahiri, and with me going on a book acquiring ban, I'll get to it sooner. I have two of her books on my shelf.

Lula O said...

Girl, you pick awesome books. Must find this one.

Rebecca Reid said...

I really enjoyed Interpreter of Maladies and I have this one on my shelf! Must get to it!

Trixie said...

Hamilcar - What an interesting observation about Pulitzers. I'm going to have to check the list of winners and pick some others to read.

Amanda - Too bad you have to ban book acquisitions but you must have a bunch of nice ones waiting on your tbr shelf. I will probably have to do the same soon!

Lula - Thanks! This one was great.

Rebecca - Definitely read this one soon. I can't believe I waited this long.

Trixie said...

One other comment about the books I read for Lula and others...
I read a lot of stuff I never finish. So I tend to only finish and review the awesome stuff.
I've been thinking about listing the books I've read partway on my blog, but then questions might arise as to why I didn't finish. Some of them are because of lack of time and I plan to get back to them. But others, I might have to give bad reviews.
I know the topic of bad reviews has come up elsewhere in the book blog world. Any thoughts?

Diane said...

I really love this novel. The author worked at our town library when she was in high school...isn't that funny?

hamilcar barca said...

hi Trixie, i for one like to read negative or ho-hum reviews. it lets me know to approach some books with caution.

i like Amanda's way of dealing with books that she abandons. she gives a brief post about them, stating why she didn't finish. but it's not really a review.

just my 2-cent opinion, and worth every penny of it.