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The Namesake Audiobook

The Namesake

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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Jhumpa Lahiri's command of language is absolutely stunning. She can, in just a few phases, accomplish a poignancy and authenticity that others rarely achieve in hours of storytelling. I didn't think anything could possibly elevate my opinion of Lahiri's debut novel...and then I listened to Sarita Choudhury's graceful reading. Her mix of American and Indian accents is perfectly suited for this beautiful story about the delicate balance between cultures and generations. —Diana Dapito

Publisher's Summary

The Namesake follows the Ganguli family through its journey from Calcutta to Cambridge to the Boston suburbs. Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli arrive in America at the end of the 1960s, shortly after their arranged marriage in Calcutta, in order for Ashoke to finish his engineering degree at MIT. Ashoke is forward-thinking, ready to enter into American culture if not fully at least with an open mind. His young bride is far less malleable. Isolated, desperately missing her large family back in India, she will never be at peace with this new world.

Soon after they arrive in Cambridge, their first child is born, a boy. According to Indian custom, the child will be given two names: an official name, to be bestowed by the great-grandmother, and a pet name to be used only by family. But the letter from India with the child's official name never arrives, and so the baby's parents decide on a pet name to use for the time being. Ashoke chooses a name that has particular significance for him: on a train trip back in India several years earlier, he had been reading a short story collection by one of his most beloved Russian writers, Nikolai Gogol, when the train derailed in the middle of the night, killing almost all the sleeping passengers onboard. Ashoke had stayed awake to read his Gogol, and he believes the book saved his life. His child will be known, then, as Gogol.

Lahiri brings her enormous powers of description to her first novel, infusing scene after scene with profound emotional depth. Condensed and controlled, The Namesake covers three decades and crosses continents, all the while zooming in at very precise moments on telling detail, sensory richness, and fine nuances of character.

©2003 Jhumpa Lahiri; (P)2003 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a Division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"This production is a treat for the sheer combination of Lahiri's striking, often enchanting descriptions and Choudhury's graceful rendering of them." (Publishers Weekly)
"This poignant treatment of the immigrant experience is a rich, stimulating fusion of authentic emotion, ironic observation, and revealing details." (Library Journal)
"This is a fine novel from a superb writer." (The Washington Post)
"An effortless and self-assured bildungsroman that more than delivers on the promise of...Interpreter of Maladies." (Book Magazine)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (1409 )
5 star
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4.1 (677 )
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4.4 (669 )
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Amy Rasmussen 03-08-15

    Creating readers in high school English. Choice matters. Let them read!

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    "Great on identity and culture"

    The story of Gogol is important. How do we get our identities if not from our families, our cultures, our choices? The narrator is superb, adding such an authenticity to my experience that would not have happened if I'd read the book on the written page

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marci Stern Kings Park, NY United States 01-25-15
    Marci Stern Kings Park, NY United States 01-25-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Loved it! Didn't wanted to end!"

    The descriptions and the characters leap off the page and enter your heart where you will want them to remain forever.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deanna Brown Aho 12-15-13

    disappointed

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    Story
    "Nothing happened."
    What would have made The Namesake better?

    A plot of some kind might have made this book better. The emigrant's struggle to belong in a new culture is interesting, but nothing new. This was more of a chronology, than a story.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aimee 12-09-13
    Aimee 12-09-13
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    "Felt like the same story I have read over and over"
    Would you try another book from Jhumpa Lahiri and/or Sarita Choudhury?

    No


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Most Interesting - The later stories of the boy's mother as she was forced to find and do for herself
    Least Interesting - The main character just seemed to whine about his life way too much


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Sarita Choudhury?

    Someone with less of a monotone voice


    Do you think The Namesake needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    I was very disappointed with this book. So many people loved it, but it felt like just another story of assimilation into a new culture. I feel like I have read it over and over.....just with different cultures and religions as the focal point.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonnie Kenosee Lake, SK, Canada 08-30-12
    Bonnie Kenosee Lake, SK, Canada 08-30-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Slow"

    The story is fine, but very slow. To much description of nothing for my taste.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Swifterbant, Netherlands 08-06-12
    A. Swifterbant, Netherlands 08-06-12 Member Since 2009
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    "A great book in a very good performance"
    Would you listen to The Namesake again? Why?

    yes, because the details of this story are charming


    What about Sarita Choudhury’s performance did you like?

    She gave the characters personality


    Any additional comments?

    Loved it

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AAnderson Ballajura, Australia 04-10-11
    AAnderson Ballajura, Australia 04-10-11 Member Since 2010

    That's no reason to cry. One cries because one is sad. For example, I cry because others are stupid, and that makes me sad.

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    "Out of all my downloaded Audible books"

    Out of all my downloaded Audible books, this one was the biggest disappointment, I have persevered with this audible book, but if I can describe this book as a colour, I would give this book a grey palate. The Character of Ashima is so Grey, that what else would her offspring be but a duller shade of grey, who despises his Grey Ancestry, and Name. It promises so much more , a melodic story with colorful characters , strong, vibrant however I am more than 1/2 way through and I would like to poke my eardrums out with a skewer as this book is boring me to tears. Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdi, Abraham Vergehese. Don't waste your money seriously

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gulnur Istanbul TurkeyTurkey 12-31-09
    Gulnur Istanbul TurkeyTurkey 12-31-09
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    "Excellent Read"

    A great book, great narration. Real-life characters with real-life emotions. Enjoyed every word!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Teaneck, NJ, USA 08-25-08
    Kathy Teaneck, NJ, USA 08-25-08
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    "Like Roots for Indian families"

    Ok, this book doesn't go as far as Roots did, but it's a beautiful read none the less. I LOVED every word!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael DALLAS, TX, USA 07-05-07
    Michael DALLAS, TX, USA 07-05-07 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "mild disappointment"

    I was mildly disappointed by this book. I found that it was less about the Ganguli's acclimatisation to American life and more of a disdain for the author's perceived view of quaint, but silly Bengali customs. I also thought that she had a particular fondness for the more "worldly and sophisticated" New England crowd. I got the distinct impression that she, perhaps due to her upbringing, was embarrassed by the native culture of her parents which was probably imposed on her as a child.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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