“The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake (movie tie-in edition)Read in September 2007.

I read this book after watching the movie with my parents in a Portland OR theater.  It was the first time all three of us left the theater with our eyes swelled up.  The story resonated so perfectly with my parents’ generation as first generation Indians coming to this country and trying to raise a family.  The story resonated equally well with my upbringing as a second generation Indian being raised here.  The choices in my life where I had to choose how Indian I wanted to be are echoed by Gogol’s choices in the story.

The book is very similar to the movie, with only two notable exceptions.  The book is based in Boston where as the movie is based in and around New York City.  This makes more sense for the movie but is a notable change.  The other notable change is that in the book there are two white girlfriends in Gogol’s life.  In the movie they sort of merge the two of them into one.  Though the storyline doesn’t change it gives the book a little more depth.

This is a book that I will keep on my bookshelf and I will encourage all Indian Americans who are being raised in this country by first-generation Indians to read.  The story is simple and the choices are real and anyone who has wanted to know the decisions necessary for someone who is trying to integrate two cultures into one while fitting in and growing up and still maintaining an individual identity – this is one great story to read.

The Namesake was my first Jhumpa Lahiri book, though I am convinced I will have to read all of her short stories and future writings now.

Read more about it and purchase it from here.

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