‘The Namesake’ is the story of a boy brought up Indian in America.
'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’.
‘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
‘The kind of writer who makes you want to grab the next person and say "Read this!"' Amy Tan
'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
About the author
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.
This recording features a spare, elegant reading by Choudhury of a story about identity, cultural assimilation and the burden of the past. Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli move from Calcutta to Cambridge, Mass., where they have a son who ends up being tagged with the strange name of Gogol. How he gets the name serves as an important theme as he deals with it and his heritage. The fact that Choudhury herself is half Indian aids her narration, as characters with that country's accent abound here. But much more important to this project is her lovely, mellifluous voice and even tone, which complements the text's own lush imagery. Perhaps owing to her English pronunciation, she is also adept at putting a polished spin on the voices of the upper-crust Manhattanites with whom Gogol becomes intertwined for a while. With such an excellent narrator, the recording neither needs nor includes much in the way of musical embellishment. The book itself makes several jumps in time and occasionally seems disjointed, but this production is a treat for the sheer combination of Lahiri's striking, often enchanting descriptions and Choudhury's graceful rendering of them. Simultaneous release with the Houghton Mifflin hardcover (Forecasts, July 7).