Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Namesake

As predicted, I loved The Namesake. I plowed through it, starting it Tuesday night and finishing it today over lunch. It was so sad, but so beautiful. For those not familiar with the book, here is the description off the back jacket:

"Meet the Ganguli family, new arrivals from Calcutta, trying their best to become Americans even as they pine for home. The name they bestow on their firstborn, Gogol, betrays all the conflicts of honoring tradition in the new world -- conflicts that will haunt Gogol on his own winding path through divided loyalties, comic detours and wrenching love affairs."

I particularly liked the way the book explored relationships. Some of the relationship nuances are specific to the emmigrant experience, but many of them seemed universal to me; the guilt that adult children feel about their relationships with their parents, the death of a parent, finding and losing love. For some reason, I had it in my head that the author, Jhumpa Lahiri was a young prodigy and I kept being amazed at the way someone her age understood the depth of emotion involved in things like the end of a marriage or the death of a spouse. Why did I think she was so young? I feel certain that someone told me she was only like 22 when her book of short stories came out in 2002, but then I looked her up online and she's in her 40s. Instead of feeling disappointed, I actually felt reassured by this discovery. I find that the older I get, the less impressed and more annoyed and depressed I am by prodigies. I have officially passed the age of being a prodigy at *anything*. As a result, when a 19 year old gets a novel published I'm forced to remember what I was doing when I was 19. After I wrote that I actually just sat staring at the computer for like 10 minutes trying to remember even *one* productive thing I did when I was 19. Or even one funny thing I did when I was 19. Mostly I just remember eating a lot of Stove Top Stuffing and sleeping in.
Anyways, I really recommend this book if you haven't already read it. I was planning to start The Samurai's Garden next, but something about it feels like the wrong choice. I want to read it, but I think I might need to insert something else first. I have a feeling a visit to the bookstore is in my near future.

1 comment:

cranky rae baker said...

I LOVED that book. Liked the movie, but the book was much better... what else is new. Prodigies piss me off too. Show-offs. Being 19 should be about Stove Top. I remember making a lot of gross eggs, too.