Jhumpa Lahiri , born on July 11, 1967 is an Indian American author. Lahiri's debut short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies(1999), won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and her first novel, The Namesake (2003), was adapted into the popular film of the same name. She was born Nilanjana Sudeshna, which she says are both "good names," but goes by her nickname Jhumpa Lahiri is a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama
In 2003, Lahiri published The Namesake, her first novel. The story spans over thirty years in the life of the Ganguli family. The Calcutta-born parents immigrated as young adults to the United States, ...view middle of the document...
As for their son, Gogol, who is a well-mannered and dutiful boy, he nevertheless detests his name, although he is helpless to change it until he is an adult. The majority of second-generation Bengali children become gradually Americanized, less drawn to tradition. These children never really participate in the family celebrations or occasional visits to see relatives in Calcutta to the same degree as their parents but are more attracted to their new culture.
The unfortunate Gogol is tethered to this dual Indian-American life, never quite fitting anywhere. At first he gravitates to the social acceptance of Americanization, pushing aside the Indian rituals that draw attention to his differences. But after a number of relationship failures and some few successes, Gogol is attracted to the comfort of his heritage, one that has settled deep in the marrow of his bones. His perspective changes dramatically over the years, and he becomes a man who seeks a connection with his family of origin.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lahiri (for The Interpreter of Maladies) delves into the heart of the Indian-American experience: the difficult and tedious adjustments, the pain of leaving a warm and comforting home and years of tradition. The real beauty of her prose is the way it flows into graceful character definition, particularly that of Gogol and his mother. The author lives inside her characters, exposing their flaws and noting their strengths with compassion, bringing them to life.
Gogol’s story is actually a simple one, as lived by many multii-cultural citizens of America. The human complaints and complications stem from the dichotomy Gogol endures for most of his early years, but the strength of Lahiri's writing is in the exquisite details. These people are not strangers; they are our neighbors, friends and fellow workers, whose lives are just as fraught with indecision as ours. With enviable ease, Lahiri illuminates the intimate traits that are so appealing and familiar.
From Gogol's fearful, cling-to-tradition immigrant parents to his continuous struggle for comfort in his own skin, the reader is privy to the intricate process of assimilation, particularly that of Indian-American life and the ties to family that comfort an immigrant population. There is an incredible generosity that is transferred from one generation to another in The Namesake. Add in culture shock and the need for acceptance in American society and the novel’s focus is familiar: the value of family in any land.
The namesake written by Jhumpa Lahiri was made into a movie by Mira Nair which follows two generations of a Bengali family from late-1970s Calcutta to New York City. It conveys a palpable sense of people as living, breathing creatures who are far more complex than their words might indicate. The story of upwardly mobile immigrants...