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Sarah Broadhurst's view...
April 2011 Guest Editor Lesley Lokko on Jhumpa Lahiri...
She really is a writer who Can Do It All – from profound, involved and emotionally switched-on novels like The Namesake to short, snappy collections of life’s wonderful snippets in Unaccustomed Earth – she’s wonderful. Every time I read her I find myself putting the book down just to catch my breath...what a wordsmith! And she’s gorgeous. Not fair.
The Lovereading view...
Almost an American White Teeth as an Indian boy rejects his background until the death of his father and the breakdown of a relationship propels him back to his family and cultural roots. Cross-generational interaction and flashbacks hold you through a tale which is as much about parents and their difficulties settling into a completely different life, alien to them, as it is about their child, our hero, growing up American. It’s an interesting, absorbing read.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
'When her grandmother learned of Ashima's pregnancy, she was particularly thrilled at the prospect of naming the family's first sahib. And so Ashima and Ashoke have agreed to put off the decision of what to name the baby until a letter comes…'
For now, the label on his hospital cot reads simply BABY BOY GANGULI. But as time passes and still no letter arrives from India, American bureaucracy takes over and demands that 'baby boy Ganguli' be given a name. In a panic, his father decides to nickname him 'Gogol' – after his favourite writer.
Brought up as an Indian in suburban America, Gogol Ganguli soon finds himself itching to cast off his awkward name, just as he longs to leave behind the inherited values of his Bengali parents. And so he sets off on his own path through life, a path strewn with conflicting loyalties, love and loss…
Spanning three decades and crossing continents, Jhumpa Lahiri's much-anticipated first novel is a triumph of humane story-telling. Elegant, subtle and moving, The Namesake is for everyone who loved the clarity, sympathy and grace of Lahiri's Pulitzer Prize-winning debut story collection, Interpreter of Maladies.
‘A joy to read.’
'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,
‘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,
About the Author
Publication date4th July 2004
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CategoriesModern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
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