Rhaye Heather, November 14, 2008 (view all comments by Rhaye Heather)
Lahiri has a beautiful way of writing - flowy and descriptive, without being too verbose. I loved the way she wove in Gogol and how this became a main theme in the book. I also loved the descriptions of the interactions between generations. The entire book is completely captivating.
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joy bangla, January 30, 2007 (view all comments by joy bangla)
Borderline bland and not a chalk to her short stories -- although Lahiri's eye for detail is as sharp as ever, the book otherwise failed to distinguish itself from the masses of other South Asian diaspora lit around. Sadly, yet another "life and times of an ABCD" ... I kept waiting for it to grab me and it never did.
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Lahiri's first novel amounts to less than the sum of its parts....By any other writer, this would be hailed as a promising debut, but it fails to clear the exceedingly high bar set by her previous work." Publishers Weekly
"Review A Day"
by Amy Reiter, Salon.com,
"In her 2000 Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri introduced us to people who left behind family and friends and the familiar heat and bustle of India to build a new life in America — a cold, bleak land of strangers and new customs. Lahiri's sweet, sometimes deep, sometimes quirky first novel, The Namesake, picks up on these beloved themes and then expands on them, following the Indian-American immigrant experience through to the next generation as she tracks the members of the Ganguli family." (read the entire Salon review)
by Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times,
"[Q]uietly dazzling....[A] wonderfully intimate and knowing family portrait...a debut novel that is as assured and eloquent as the work of a longtime master of the craft."
by Donna Seaman, Booklist,
"Lahiri's short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize, and her deeply knowing, avidly descriptive, and luxuriously paced first novel is equally triumphant."
by Entertainment Weekly,
"[B]eautiful....[A] bigger, untidier, and ultimately more involving book [than Interpreter of Maladies]....[Lahiri is a] sophisticated, gimlet-eyed chronicler of contemporary urban American life. (Grade: A)"
by Library Journal,
"[P]oignant...a rich, stimulating fusion of authentic emotion, ironic observation, and revealing details. Readers who enjoyed the author's Pulitzer Prize-winning short story collection...will not be disappointed."
by Vanity Fair,
"Jhumpa Lahiri expands her Pulitzer Prize-winning short stories of Indian assimilation into her lovely first novel, The Namesake."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"Though Lahiri writes with painstaking care, her dry synoptic style fails to capture the quirkiness of relationships....A disappointingly bland follow-up to a stellar story collection."
by Harper's Bazaar,
"This eagerly anticipated debut novel deftly expands on Lahiri's signature themes of love, solitude and cultural disorientation."
by Maire Claire,
"Pulitzer Prize-winner Jhumpa Lahiri weaves an intricate story of the cultural assimilation of an Indian family in America. Their bumpy journey to self-acceptance will move you."
This quietly beautiful family portrait "deftly expands on Lahiri's signature themes of love, solitude, and cultural disorientation" (Harper's Bazaar), the very themes that made her collection of stories an international bestseller.
Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies established this young writer as one the most brilliant of her generation. Her stories are one of the very few debut works — and only a handful of collections — to have won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Among the many other awards and honors it received were the New Yorker Debut of the Year award, the PEN/Hemingway Award, and the highest critical praise for its grace, acuity, and compassion in detailing lives transported from India to America. In The Namesake, Lahiri enriches the themes that made her collection an international bestseller: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation, and, most poignantly, the tangled ties between generations. Here again Lahiri displays her deft touch for the perfect detail — the fleeting moment, the turn of phrase — that opens whole worlds of emotion.
The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged wedding, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world. Named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents in memory of a catastrophe years before, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name. Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along the first-generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs. With penetrating insight, she reveals not only the defining power of the names and expectations bestowed upon us by our parents, but also the means by which we slowly, sometimes painfully, come to define ourselves. The New York Times has praised Lahiri as "a writer of uncommon elegance and poise." The Namesake is a fine-tuned, intimate, and deeply felt novel of identity.
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