August 2018 Review
The Schaumburg library chose this book for a communitywide book for the fall, and thus it is also on my book club list. I read it five years back but decided to give it another go to have a refresher before the discussion. This go round, I “read” the audio format. First of all, I am SO PUMPED to live in a place that picked such a book to foist on the community. What an enlightening and refreshing book. It’s almost a primer for diversity and understanding of other and immigrants as Lahiri tells the story of the Ganguli family as they immigrate from India to America and adapt to American culture and way of life.
She does some interesting things with narration, focusing equally on the father, mother, and later son, to show their experiences and the world through their lens. Poignant and informative Lahiri manages to educate without preaching to or at the reader, providing a simple story that is relatable, no matter your level of exposure to other cultures. It puts the reader in the Ganguli’s shoes, as they each struggle with personal and cultural identity in a foreign land. I’m glad to have the chance to discuss it and that it is back on my radar as I will once again be suggesting it to anyone asking me for a book suggestion.
Bonus fact: while writing this review and doing a bit of additional research, I learned that Lahiri won the Pulitzer for her debut work of fiction, Interpreter of Maladies, um, what? Added to the (never-ending) reading list.
May 2013 Review
“For being a foreigner, Ashima is beginning to realize, is a sort of lifelong pregnancy – a perpetual wait, a constant burden, a continuous feeling out of sorts.” The Namesake is a poignant and honest observation of family, cultural differences, and self discovery and the ways our experiences and upbringing inform our adult lives.
I honestly don’t want to say too much because I really enjoyed this book and want to let others go into it blind, as I did, as I feel it improves the experience. I will say that for me this is one of those books that really makes you feel what the characters are feeling and succeeds at unifying the human experience by showing that despite cultural differences, we are really at the core the same. It is definitely a read that will stay with you long after you put it down.
Ultimately we are all people trying to make it through. Some have it better, some have it worse, but we are all just trying to make sense of the hands we were dealt. “There were things for which it was impossible to prepare but which one spent a lifetime looking back at, trying to accept, interpret, comprehend. Things that should never have happened, that seemed out of place and wrong, these were what prevailed, what endured, in the end.”