Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies established this young writer as one the most brilliant of her generation. In The Namesake, Lahiri enriches the themes that made her collection an international bestseller: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation, and, most poignantly, the tangled ties between generations.
The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged marriage, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world. Named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name.
Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along a ﬁrst-generation path strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs. With penetrating insight, she reveals not only the defining power of the names and expectations bestowed upon us by our parents, but also the means by which we slowly, sometimes painfully, come to define ourselves.
'The Namesake is the story of a boy brought up Indian in America, from 'the kind of writer who makes you want to grab the next person and say "Read this!"' --AMY TAN
'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
'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
'Eloquent...Lahiri's prose is striking. Spurning the antsy, transcultural wordplay of may Asian-American authors, she writes with journalistic precision. Like a Victorian urban chronicler, she loves to amass inventories. Things matter to her and to her characters; they are bulwarks against drift and confusion. The Namesake...is lucid, generous in its narrative scope, and an extremely accomplished first novel.'--Sukhdev Sandhu, Daily Telegraph
'Covering about 30 years...the novel manages to represent, without patronising, life within the confines of a professional expatriate enclave. Lahiri is at her best when mapping these confines, and the conflicts between individual pursuits and family loyalties...Fluid, accessible and...very good indeed.'--The Independent
'Good novelists, like Bengali parents, must make their creations unique, and Lahiri's central characters are painfully believable...An extremely good first novel, a glowing miniature of a tiny family making the voyage between two worlds.' --Maggie Gee
Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London of Bengali parents, and grew up in Rhode Island, USA. Her stories have appeared in many American journals, including the New Yorker. Interpreter of Maladies, her first published collection, won the Pulitzer Prize 2000 for Fiction, the New Yorker Prize for Best First Book, the PEN/Hemingway Award and was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Award. Jhumpa Lahiri lives in New York.