The Namesake

January 24, 2016 at 4:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I have read Lahiri’s The Interpreter of Maladies earlier – about 5-6 years ago. But somehow, never got my hands on The Namesake. Strange, because  I had always heard more about The Namesake than about Lahiri’s Pulitzer winning opus. In fact, while reading Maladies, I barely even registered the fact that this was one of the most celebrated books in this (fairly narrow) genre. Not that I did not like it – I did, very much. But like is not really a word I would associate with Maladies (or even The Namesake, for that matter). The undercurrent of darkness, sorrow and flux in her characters rings too true and too close to home for me to like.

This ringing close to home is probably what makes her writing so powerful. Lahiri excels at evoking emotion. We feel for the characters, we feel with the characters.

This was how I experienced The Namesake. Not that I was always sympathetic to the characters. Every time Gogol’s extreme dissatisfaction with his name, one feels like giving him a smack on the head. Oh come on, get a life! So much of the existential angst seems so unnecessary! But one still feels for Gogol, which is quite brilliant! I do not need to sympathize with Gogol to be able to empathize with him!

No character is purely white or black, and Lahiri has the gift of making us appreciate  each character. I might not like Moushumi, but I really get her!  And once I understand her, its pretty much impossible to hate her. The need to conform, the need for familial approval constantly at war with the need to rebel, to gel with friends in an adopted culture is a constant theme, and one with Lahiri manages very very deftly.

A lovely read!


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