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The Namesake
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The Namesake
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The Namesake follows the Ganguli family through its journey from Calcutta to Cambridge to the Boston suburbs. Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli arrive in America at the end of the 1960s, shortly after their...
The Namesake follows the Ganguli family through its journey from Calcutta to Cambridge to the Boston suburbs. Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli arrive in America at the end of the 1960s, shortly after their...
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  • The Namesake follows the Ganguli family through its journey from Calcutta to Cambridge to the Boston suburbs. Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli arrive in America at the end of the 1960s, shortly after their arranged marriage in Calcutta, in order for Ashoke to finish his engineering degree at MIT. Ashoke is forward-thinking, ready to enter into American culture if not fully at least with an open mind. His young bride is far less malleable. Isolated, desperately missing her large family back in India, she will never be at peace with this new world.
    Soon after they arrive in Cambridge, their first child is born, a boy. According to Indian custom, the child will be given two names: an official name, to be bestowed by the great-grandmother, and a pet name to be used only by family. But the letter from India with the child's official name never arrives, and so the baby's parents decide on a pet name to use for the time being. Ashoke chooses a name that has particular significance for him: on a train trip back in India several years earlier, he had been reading a short story collection by one of his most beloved Russian writers, Nikolai Gogol, when the train derailed in the middle of the night, killing almost all the sleeping passengers onboard. Ashoke had stayed awake to read his Gogol, and he believes the book saved his life. His child will be known, then, as Gogol.
    Lahiri brings her enormous powers of description to her first novel, infusing scene after scene with profound emotional depth. Condensed and controlled, The Namesake covers three decades and crosses continents, all the while zooming in at very precise moments on telling detail, sensory richness, and fine nuances of character.
 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • Jhumpa Lahiri was born in 1967 in London, England and raised in Rhode Island. Her stories have been selected for both The Best American Short Stories and the O. Henry Award. Her collection of short stories, The Interpreter of Maladies, won both the Pen/Hemingway Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2000. She lives in New York City.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Jhumpa Lahiri, author of a Pulitzer Prize-wining short story collection, offers as her first novel the multigenerational story of the Ganguli family, who arrive in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from Calcutta in the 1960s. Over 40 years, we follow the arranged marriage of Western-oriented Ashoke and his traditional wife, Ashima, and the efforts of their children to live both American and Indian lives. It's an involving novel, replete with Lahiri's trademark social observations and fine-tuned jewel-like phrasing. Sarita Choudhury has a pleasant voice, and manages an American-accented narration and Bengali accents very well. One comment on the production quality, however--sudden changes in the narrator's tone and the sound level indicate that many words and phrases were rerecorded and dubbed into the original. It's a bit off-putting in an otherwise excellent audiobook. A.C.S. 2004 Audie Award Finalist (c) AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 7, 2003
    One of the most anticipated books of the year, Lahiri's first novel (after 1999's Pulitzer Prize–winning Interpreter of Maladies) amounts to less than the sum of its parts. Hopscotching across 25 years, it begins when newlyweds Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli emigrate to Cambridge, Mass., in 1968, where Ashima immediately gives birth to a son, Gogol—a pet name that becomes permanent when his formal name, traditionally bestowed by the maternal grandmother, is posted in a letter from India, but lost in transit. Ashoke becomes a professor of engineering, but Ashima has a harder time assimilating, unwilling to give up her ties to India. A leap ahead to the '80s finds the teenage Gogol ashamed of his Indian heritage and his unusual name, which he sheds as he moves on to college at Yale and graduate school at Columbia, legally changing it to Nikhil. In one of the most telling chapters, Gogol moves into the home of a family of wealthy Manhattan WASPs and is initiated into a lifestyle idealized in Ralph Lauren ads. Here, Lahiri demonstrates her considerable powers of perception and her ability to convey the discomfort of feeling "other" in a world many would aspire to inhabit. After the death of Gogol's father interrupts this interlude, Lahiri again jumps ahead a year, quickly moving Gogol into marriage, divorce and a role as a dutiful if a bit guilt-stricken son. This small summary demonstrates what is most flawed about the novel: jarring pacing that leaves too many emotional voids between chapters. Lahiri offers a number of beautiful and moving tableaus, but these fail to coalesce into something more than a modest family saga. By any other writer, this would be hailed as a promising debut, but it fails to clear the exceedingly high bar set by her previous work. Agent, Eric Simonoff. (Sept. 16)Forecast:Lahiri's previous collection is beloved by booksellers and readers alike, and despite the likely lukewarm reviews, orders and sales are sure to soar for this one.Lahiri, who appeared awkward working the crowd at BEA, may take some time to warm up to audiences on the road. Foreign rights sold in 12 countries.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 5, 2004
    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).

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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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