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Jhumpa Lahiri
304 Pages
Publisher: Mariner Books (September 2004)
ISBN: 0618485228
Price: S$27.95 (Available in Borders)





It’s always nice to read about cultures you are familiar with.

This 2003 novel by Jhumpa Lahiri tells the story of Gogol Ganguli, the son of an Indian academic and his wife. Together with his traditional family, Gogol grows up in America, and like a typical immigrant drama, he faces divided loyalties, comic detours and wrenching love affairs.

The boy’s journey into adulthood is written so beautifully that the novel won Lahiri a Pulitzer Prize, The bittersweet story has also been adapted into a film directed by Mira Nair and starring Kal Penn in the role of Gogol.

The moving tale is told vividly, thanks to Lahiri’s lyrical descriptions of the conflicting Asian and Western cultures. There are no exciting and stirring plot twists. What you can expect is a meandering account of life-reflecting moments that you may find enlightening.

Themes of responsibilities, expectations, guilt, and traditions are intricately interwoven within poetically-written symbolizations and portrayals of the Indian culture. While the impatient reader may find fault in the novel’s lack of exhilaration, he must realize that the finer beauties of life require deeper appreciation.


When she calls out to Ashoke, she doesn’t say his name. Ashima never thinks of her husband’s name when she thinkg of her husband, even though she knows perfectly well what it is. She has adopted his surname but refuses, for propreity’s sake, to utter his first. It’s not the type of thing Bengali wives do. Like a kiss or caress in a Hindi movie, a husband’s name is something intimate and therefore unspoken, cleverly parched over.


Take your time to read this novel and you’d go on a rewarding journey of realization. The simple but rich writing will melt the coldest of hearts, while the affecting and sincerely soulful story will be of universal appeal.

Review by John Li


. The Namesake (Soundtrack Review)



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