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The Namesake


By Anagha Gouru

Genre: Fiction

Date of Publication: September 2003

Author: Jhumpa Lahiri

Number of Pages: 291 pages (Hardcover Edition)

Favorite Quote: "Being rescued from that shattered train had been the first miracle of his life. But here, now, reposing in his arms, weighing next to nothing but changing everything, is the second.”

Summary: In August 1968, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli welcome their brand new baby boy into the world. Only in order to be released from their hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, they must break with Bengali custom and give their son an official name on that pesky birth certificate. Ashoke names their son Gogol, after the Russian novelist. Gogol’s books saved Ashoke's life when he was injured in a train crash in India, back in 1961.

The Gangulis eventually move to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they raise Gogol and, a few years later, their daughter Sonali. Growing up, Gogol gradually realizes that his name is quite unusual, and he really doesn't like that. He doesn't like that at all. Annoyed by the Bengali customs of his parents, Gogol totally embraces American popular culture. The summer before he leaves to attend college at Yale, he officially changes his name to Nikhil.

Everyone but his family calls him Nikhil. He graduates from Yale and Columbia, and gets a job at an architecture firm in New York City. Living on his own, he chooses to do more with his life, like date many girls. How will Gogol manage living on his own, and most of all, how will his parents manage when he has betrayed their culture. Find out in The Namesake.

My favorite character is Gogol. Gogol is very ambitious and likes to get what he wants. But he is also caring, and when his mother was alone, he stayed with her for almost a year. He is also really adventurous and likes to take risks.

Some themes in the Namesake are identity, family, foreignness, home, and society and class.

People should read this because it is a very inspirational story of a young boy who tries to grow up in two backgrounds and handles it rather gracefully through humor and lightheartedness.


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