Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Namesake - review

I finished this before A More Diverse Universe started, so it's just a standalone review, though it'd be a great read for the challenge :)

Gogol Ganguli has spent much of his life struggling with his unusual name.

Named after the Russian author by his father, Gogol has to find a way to be at peace with it as he grows up.

The Namesake is about many things, the importance of names is just one of them. Gogol ends up with his name because of a lost letter between Bangladesh and America, and has to shoulder what he sees - at times - as an unfair burden.

The Namesake is also about Gogol's parents, Ashima and Ashoke, who start a new life in America after an arranged marriage. Navigating a whole new country while holding on to their own traditions becomes a delicate balancing act for them both.

When Gogol turns 18, he officially sheds the name, becoming Nikhil instead. As he goes through college and growing into his 20s and 30s, Nikhil distances himself more  and more from his parents and his Bengali heritage. It takes his father suddenly dying for Nikhil to reconnect with his mother and his sister in a meaningful way.

The Namesake is a beautiful novel. It's a meditation on the connections we make with family, friends and the world around us, and how a simple thing like a name can affect all of those connections.

Lahiri writes about Ashoke and Ashima and their culture with great affection and you can feel the warmth of it coming off the pagees.

Good stuff.


  1. Gosh, I'm trying to remember this book! I am pretty sure I read it years and years ago, but almost nothing about it has stuck with me. I need to try another Lahiri book sometime soon. She's so beloved!

  2. Jenny, I really enjoyed it. I'm not surprised her writing is great