Jhumpa Lahiri is an American author of Indian origin, born with the name Nilanjana Sudeshana Lahiri to Bengali parents, and right from the beginning faces dilemma of odd name, since due to her hard original name, everybody use to call her by her pet name “Jhumpa”, and this dilemma made the base for her first novel “The Namesake” . Its already converted into a 2006 movie of same name, which is acted by great actors like Irrfan & Tabu, also stars American Indian famous actor Kal Penn(aka Kalpen converted american), and was directed by none other than Mira Nair.
This novel comes into existence in 2003 , and Jhumpa wrote this novel after her collection of short stories, “Interpreter of Maladies(1999)” which won her Pulitzer Price of fiction in 2000. Her other book, The Lowland(2013) was a nominee for Man Booker Prize & National Book Award for fiction. This book was also released in Bengali by the name ’Samanami’.
In the 291 pages(18 days for me) , the story talks about a guy who was oddly named as’Gogol’ by his parents Ashima & Ashoke Ganguli , and it all came into being because of a confusion. They have to name their new-born and they were waiting for a name from their grand-parents, but their letter didn’t came. They lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Ashoke is a lecturer. They just gave a pet name to their baby boy, which was inspired from a Russian Author’s name, actually from his surname(Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol). The father was an avid reader of Russian novels, and it is his book which saved his life in a life-taking train accident. But Ashoke was unaware that mentioning this ’daak-naam’ on the Birth certificate will later can create problem, as it becomes the boy’s official name. Now the boy become a grown-up man, and he have to face embarrassment because of his odd name. Soon he apply for a new name and got it changed to more appealing “Nikhil” . The rest of the story comprises of his life, his affairs, his study, his relation with his parents, his marriage with a Bengali lady Moushumi Mojumdar , his living away from his immediate family, and later on coming back to them after his father’s death, basically its a life-story of a man named GOGOL.
The Namesake boasts of a very simple language , and covers the dilemmas of foreign-living NRIs beautifully, their feelings, their living conditions, and it covers the aspects of Bengali culture very nicely, though I am not much aware of Bengali traditions myself, but it seems authentic after reading the story, nicely written, and have all the feels . This is totally a drama novel with all the emotions, without talking much about them directly. The book is written with the eyes of Gogol, obviously Jhumpa herself, and gave you a feeling like you’re living the life of Gogol. This book didn’t fall in my genre, but since I have known about the author’s name before, and I got this book just for Rs.100, I thought to give it a try, and I am now satisfied, not a waste of time. This book feels like warmth of sun in the chilly winter’s morning. You got to read it slow to grasp the full feeling, and enjoy it sitting in the front of low-radiated wintery sun on chilly morning, and enjoy it, it can also become a good companion on trains as well. The characterization feels complete yet looked like left in between , you can get that in simple wordings used by author in her style, the book covers the years from 1968 – 2000.
For some though this book can go boring as it proceeds, since its not much of a story , just simple ongoings of someone’s life, which may not matter to everybody, but I think that the best of stories comes from the simplest of things, and the most simple yet complicated thing in the whole world is LIFE, and if you’re able to interpret that, then you’re the winner. In the end, author deviates from the plot, and covers Moushumi more than Gogol, probably she is a lady, and somehow I feel that even Moushumi is inspired from the author herself. The novel ends at a good point, and it makes you emotional (though no sad endings).
If you’re a vivid reader, or even a fantasy-adventure lover like me, you can surely opt for this one, it will not disappoint you. Now I am progressing with my 2nd read of Agatha Christie ’The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’, I still feels the book’s warmth. Go for it, 5.5/8.
As they all say, Life is in itself a journey, you don’t know where it started, but you definitely know where you want to go and where does it ends (My words, not copied:P)