National Endowment for the Arts - The Big Read
The Namesake

The Namesake

by Jhumpa Lahiri

That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.


Jhumpa Lahiri. Photo by Elena Seibert.

What's in a name? For Gogol Ganguli, American-born of Bengali parentage bearing a Russian writer's surname, this question is neither easily answered nor easily dismissed. Straddling two generations, two cultures, and with two first names, Gogol moves through life with a sense he never quite fits in. His quiet angst and personal questioning almost derail him, careening–like the train that links him to his father and his destiny—from relationship to relationship. Jhumpa Lahiri's understated exploration of identity and cultural assimilation in The Namesake illuminates for us all the question "Who am I?," while bringing alive the colors, flavors, and textures of immigrant Indian life in America.

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