I finished reading The Namesake at 3 am last night and knew the book would forever be special to me. The reason being I could relate to it. I could see bits and pieces of myself, my family, hovering around the pages of the book. The process of leaving behind, of reconstructing, of moving back and forth, fluctuating between two countries and yet feeling that “something is missing”, just like Ashima describes it in the book.
Just like the author, Jhumpa Lahiri endured, living away from family, far from home adapting to new states of being, the distance and the pain of separation always getting the better of you. I found myself and my family on the same page as the Gangulis.
Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake is a story of Ashoke and Ashima, the newlywed couple from Calcutta, India, who migrate and settle down in the U.S. in the 1960s. Ashoke, an engineer, quickly adapts himself and gets used to the American ways of life. Whereas, Ashima deeply misses her family, struggles and longs to go back to her homeland.
Gogol, their first son, named after the famous Russian author, is bothered by the absurdness of the name. Both Ashima’s cultural shock and Gogol’s identity crisis is beautifully captured in the story. At times, I found myself putting the book down, weeping, for I felt so connected, deeply immersed in the characters and their lives.
I love reading about different cultures, and The Namesake gives an insight about Bengali culture, their practices and customs. Russian literature and authors’ references are also something I adore about this book. This intrigues me to explore the beauty of Russian literature.
This book also made me ponder over the unpredictability of life; about how uncertain it is. This book will make you feel strangely connected to your loved ones; will make you cherish their love, their existence before it’s too late. Before they’re long gone, in the blink of an eye.
I could go on talking about how remarkable the story is. But all I would do is urge you to read this. I promise it’ll be worth it.