Jhumpa Lahiri’s first novel, The Namesake, was published in 2000. Her first collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize. The story follows a boy in America who was born to Bengali immigrants.
He struggles to agree with many of his parents’ statements, starting with his name, which he takes from the Russian writer Nikolai Gogol, to whom his father owes a debt. His American classmates make fun of him by calling him “Giggle” or “Gargle,” and when teachers see his name on the roster, they are startled.
He legally abandons Gogol for Nikhil at the age of 18, enrolling in an architecture course at Yale to establish his freedom and identity rather than retain any affinities to the home culture. He marries Maushmi, a Bengali woman, according to his mother’s will because his father’s untimely death forces him to perform family duties. However, within a year, he ends up divorcing.
Ashima marries MIT electrical engineering doctoral candidate Ashoke in Calcutta. They give their American baby boy the name Gogol. In the new nation well beyond the social shock, the youngster’s introduction to the world disrupts her, “As she strokes and nurses and studies her child, she can’t resist the urge to feel sorry for him. She has never seen anyone enter the world so devoid and alone.
Scarcely any Indian settler mother in America exculpates herself of such pity and culpability, the new universe of limitless material prospects places her in questions of her infant’s social presence.
In general, Indians are more rooted in their ethnic, caste, and community identities than in their national identities, and they adhere to family and social customs at home. Cultural ethnocentrism and romanticized self-pity and nostalgia for a distant homeland are two manifestations of this in the United States.
They expect the same thing from the younger generation, which causes conflicts in the relationship right away.
Lahiri in The Namesake stages how this contention creates ohe Ganguly family scrounging through the psychological guide of its individuals’ self-image, unaffected mentalities, characteristics of the grown-ups, and the discernments, responses, and frailties of the youths. Lahiri depicts the actual narratives of such everyday negotiations, not through clichés or the telescopic perspective provided above.
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The Namesake Ashima internalizes her femininity to sacrifice personal preferences to remain a faithful wife in marriage, which is a contrast to Lahiri’s portrayal of Indian women. When she returns to India after 33 years in the United States, she does not hold her husband accountable for his “…omissions of devotion, of affection…She knows now, (these) do not matter in the end.”
After the story, we see Gogol sitting alone in the house where he spent his early years with his family, contemplating the following: “…without people in this world to call him Gogol, no matter how long he lives, Gogol Ganguly will, once and for all, vanish from the lips of loved ones, and so cease to exist.” However, the possibility of this inevitable destruction gives no feeling of triumph, no comfort by any means.”
The Namesake is a riveting read from the very beginning to the very end due to the way that Lahiri tells the story. Her narrative is conversational, relaxed, and casual. You are knocked out by its cumulative effect.
Her ability for perception and the ability to detail the circumstances with clever articulations smooth the way into each character’s reality. The novel was made into a significant film with a similar name by Rainstorm Wedding notoriety Mira Nair.