Spanning two generations, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake explores the meaning of life in the United States as an immigrant, bound to both old and new. The story follows Ashima Ganguli’s struggle as a pregnant woman in an unfamiliar and cold Boston thousands of miles away from her family in India, before turning to focus on Gogol Ganguli, her newborn son.
Gogol is conflicted from an early age—about his name, which is that of a Russian author, and his heritage, which is neither fully American nor Indian. Gogol’s relationships with his parents, friends, and women are mired in his struggle to find himself, whether by changing his name or attending college away from home. The novel is potent and passionate, yet reassuringly fluid and easy to read.
Reviewed by Christina Ma,