Known as New York Magazine’s Book of the Year, as well as the 2014 Big Read for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, The Namesake–by Jhumpa Lahiri–is the story of identity, family, culture, and a sense of belonging. Traveling all the way from Calcutta to Massachusetts, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli do their best to maintain their new lives in America. It is difficult for Ashima, though, since she is starting her new life in her arranged marriage to Ashoke. They’re thousands of miles away from their families and Ashima has never been on her own. While Ashoke is working and studying for electrical engineering at MIT, Ashima is homesick.
Everything changes when Ashoke and Ashima have their first child. It is, then, decided that the child is named Gogol. At first, Ashima considers going back to Calcutta, for she fears having to raise their child in an foreign city. Conflict arises while Gogol is growing up. Throughout his childhood and teen years, Gogol doesn’t understand much of his own heritage, let alone understand why he was given such a name. After all, his name has nothing to do with his heritage. He begins to show some resentment toward his parents.
Following his graduating from the architecture program at Columbia, Gogol continues to reside in New York. Throughout his journey, however, his identity crisis still haunts him. Because of it all, he tries to escape who he really is, as well as escaping any loyalties to his family.
The Namesake is now a major motion picture.
Jhumpa Lahiri is also the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for her story collection Interpreter of Maladies.