The Namesake

Jhumpa Lahiri

‘When her grandmother learned of Ashima’s pregnancy, she was particularly thrilled at the prospect of naming the family’s first sahib. And so Ashima and Ashoke have agreed to put off the decision of what to name the baby until a letter comes…’

For now, the label on his hospital cot reads simply ‘Baby Boy Ganguli’. But as time passes and still no letter arrives from India, American bureaucracy takes over and demands that ‘baby boy Ganguli’ be given a name. In a panic, his father decides to nickname him ‘Gogol’ – after his favourite writer.

Brought up as an Indian in suburban America, Gogol Ganguli soon finds himself itching to cast off his awkward name, just as he longs to leave behind the inherited values of his Bengali parents. And so he sets off on his own path through life, a path strewn with conflicting loyalties, love and loss…

Spanning three decades and crossing continents, Jhumpa Lahiri’s much-anticipated first novel is a triumph of humane story-telling. Elegant, subtle and moving, ‘The Namesake’ is for everyone who loved the clarity, sympathy and grace of Lahiri’s Pulitzer Prize-winning debut story collection, ‘Interpreter of Maladies’.

Reviews of The Namesake

  • ‘Extraordinary…a book that spins gold out of the straw of ordinary lives. The calm, pellucid grace of her prose, the sustained stretch of crystal clear writing, its elegant pianissimo tone, pulls the reader from beginning to end in one neat arc. Every detail, every observation, every sentence rings with the clarity of truth. “The Namesake” is a novel that makes its reader feel privileged to be allowed access to its immensely empathetic world.’ The Times

    ‘This is certainly a novel that explores the concepts of cultural identity, of rootlessness, of tradition and familial expectation…but …it never succumbs to the cliches those themes so often entail. Instead, Lahiri turns it into something both larger and simpler: the story of a man and his family, of his life and hopes, loves and sorrows. She has a talent – magical, sly, cumulative – that most writers would kill for.’ Julie Myerson, The Guardian

    ‘A joy to read.’ Sunday Telegraph

    ‘Gracious…in refined, empathetic prose…each of Lahiri’s characters patches together their own identity, making this resonant fable neither uniquely Asian nor uniquely American, but tenderly, wryly human.’ Hephzibah Anderson, The Observer

    ‘Impeccably written.’ Daily Mail