Jhumpa Lahiri‘s first novel, The Namesake, is a story of many things. It is about a Bengali boy who grows up in America. It is about the struggles of trying to keep your cultural heritage alive while learning the traditions of a whole different race. It is about choices. It is about family. It is about finding your identity.
Ashima and Ashoke are a Bengali couple who have left all they love behind to make the move to America in the hope of a better life. With impeccable attention to detail, Lahiri narrates all the effort involved in adapting to a world so different from all they have known. Brilliantly, she also manages to map the internal struggles of Gogol Ganguli, Ashima and Ashoke’s first-born who is not Bengali and not quite American either…
As you turn pages of the book, you get more and more involved in the lives of the Ganguli’s and feel their sorrows and joys. You start to identify with their problems and connect with the reasons behind their choices. Lahiri is a wonderful story-teller and in an almost magical way, she gets the reader to fall in love with the characters and root for them.
The Namesake has something in it for everyone and is an absolutely worthy addition to any bookshelf. A true delight to read.