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.

Lillian Faderman is an internationally known scholar of ethnic and lesbian history and an acclaimed memoirist. She is the recipient of the American Association of University Women's National Distinguished Scholar Award, among other honors. She is the author of several books, including My Mother's Wars (2013), Naked in the Promised Land (2003), I Begin My Life All Over (1998), and Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers (1991).

Grammy-nominated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer has released 16 albums, including Accelerando (2012) and Tirtha (2011), a jazz-informed reflection on the contemporary Indian diaspora. The recipient of an unprecedented five awards in DownBeat International Critics Poll in 2012, including Jazz Artist of the Year, Iyer's other 2012 awards include the Jazz Journalists Association's Pianist of the Year award and the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award.

Jhumpa Lahiri is the recipient of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (the first Indian-American woman to receive this award) and the PEN/Hemingway Award for the year's best fiction debut for her first collection of stories, Interpreter of Maladies. In 2003, she published The Namesake, followed by a second collection of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth, in 2008.

Actor Kal Penn's credits include Mira Nair's film The Namesake, the Harold & Kumar franchise, and the critically acclaimed television series House. Penn recently returned to acting after a two-year sabbatical during which he served as an associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. He has also served as an adjunct professor of cinema, sociology, and Asian American studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Josephine Reed is the media producer at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). She produces and hosts the NEA's weekly podcast Art Works, a program that features interviews with artists and creative thinkers. Before coming to the NEA, she directed XM Satellite Radio's book and contemporary theater channel and hosted the program Writers on Writing. In partnership with the NEA, she also created the series The Big Read on XM.

Manil Suri, a native of Mumbai, is a professor of mathematics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He is the author of The City of Devi (2013), The Age of Shiva (2009), and The Death of Vishnu (2008), a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award.

Deborah Treisman is the fiction editor of The New Yorker, where she has worked since 1997, and the creator and host of the award-winning New Yorker Fiction Podcast. She is the editor of the anthology 20 Under 40: Stories from The New Yorker (2010).

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