'The Namesake' is the story of a boy brought up Indian in America.
'When her grandmother learned of Ashima's pregnancy, she was particularly thrilled at the prospect of naming the family's first sahib. And so Ashima and Ashoke have agreed to put off the decision of what to name the baby until a letter comes.'
For now, the label on his hospital cot reads simply BABY BOY GANGULI. But as time passes and still no letter arrives from India, American bureaucracy takes over and demands that 'baby boy Ganguli' be given a name. In a panic, his father decides to nickname him 'Gogol' after his favourite writer.
Brought up as an Indian in suburban America, Gogol Ganguli soon finds himself itching to cast off his awkward name, just as he longs to leave behind the inherited values of his Bengali parents. And so he sets off on his own path through life, a path strewn with conflicting loyalties, love and loss...
Spanning three decades and crossing continents, Jhumpa Lahiri's much-anticipated first novel is a triumph of humane story-telling. Elegant, subtle and moving, 'The Namesake' is for everyone who loved the clarity, sympathy and grace of Lahiri's Pulitzer Prize-winning debut story collection, 'Interpreter of Maladies'.
'Extraordinary...a book that spins gold out of the straw of ordinary lives. The calm, pellucid grace of her prose, the sustained stretch of crystal clear writing, its elegant pianissimo tone, pulls the reader from beginning to end in one neat arc. Every detail, every observation, every sentence rings with the clarity of truth. The Namesake is a novel that makes its reader feel privileged to be allowed access to its immensely empathetic world.' The Times'Impeccably written' Daily Mail'Gracious...in refined, empathetic prose...each of Lahiri's characters patches together their own identity, making this resonant fable neither uniquely Asian nor uniquely American, but tenderly, wryly human.' Hephzibah Anderson, The Observer'This is certainly a novel that explores the concepts of cultural identity, of rootlessness, of tradition and familial expectation...but ...it never succumbs to the cliches those themes so often entail. Instead, Lahiri turns it into something both larger and simpler: the story of a man and his family, of his life and hopes, loves and sorrows. She has a talent -- magical, sly, cumulative -- that most writers would kill for.' Julie Myerson, The Guardian'Jhumpa Lahiri's excellent first novel... is the work of a fine writer, discriminating, compassionate and surprising. It is, too, a story for our times.' Rachel Cusk, Evening Standard'A joy to read.' Sunday Telegraph'Eloquent...Lahiri's prose is striking. Spurning the antsy, transcultural wordplay of may Asian-American authors, she writes with journalistic precision. Like a Victorian urban chronicler, she loves to amass inventories. Things matter to her and to her characters; they are bulwarks against drift and confusion. The Namesake...is lucid, generous in its narrative scope, and an extremely accomplished first novel.' Sukhdev Sandhu, Daily Telegraph'Covering about 30 years...the novel manages to represent, without patronising, life within the confines of a professional expatriate enclave. Lahiri is at her best when mapping these confines, and the conflicts between individual pursuits and family loyalties...Fluid, accessible and...very good indeed.' The Independent'Good novelists, like Bengali parents, must make their creations unique, and Lahiri's central characters are painfully believable...An extremely good first novel, a glowing miniature of a tiny family making the voyage between two worlds.' Maggie Gee