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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings


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  • Overall


Beautifully written and beautifully read. I loved this book. I initially thought I had nothing in common with main character (which is fine, it is not something I look for in a book either way), but as the story unfolded I felt a real connection to him. I understood how he felt about things. All the characters were very real, very human. For me, it is a story about life in America, about family, about relationships, and about understanding the importance of one's roots.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Very Enjoyable Read

I very much enjoyed this book. I thought it was well written and well narrated. I hope Audible has more of her work available in the future.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


This is a lovely story, with interesting culturally lessons. I found the narration somewhat distracting. I would have preferred a strictly Indian accent. 5 stars for the story 2 for the narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Uday
  • 12-19-05

A delight to anyone who comes across this book

The Namesake is a well written story by Jhumpa Lahiri and wonderfully narrated by Sarita Choudhury.

It is a story of an immigrant family, growing up in a culture clash. But there is a twist, a novel idea to this story. It is about the boy's name. The Ganguly family names their son by circumstances and how it evolves in the story is very well depicted. I especially love the ending of the story. Kudos to Lahiri who does a fine job of portraying every element of the story with finesse and warmth. Each character touches your heart and falls correctly in the story.

A Bengali couple immigrating from India to Boston. MA. How they adjust to the new life in the US and the upbringing of their son GOGAL. Coming from a similar background, I could relate to the story quite a bit. It a warm and touching story and sure to delight everyone who comes across this book.

- uday K

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Stephen
  • Friday Harbor, WA, USA
  • 10-13-05

Wonderful, quiet, moving!

I loved listening to this narrator bring to life the extraordinary life of ordinary people. I felt as if I was peaking through a window into the lives of this Bengali family. Ms. Lahiri is an extremely talented writer.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jean
  • Ashland, OR, USA
  • 07-12-04

A wonderful read!

This book is a joy. I had read the author's short stories (not my favorite genre, usually), and was impressed by the way her characters were written with such attention to detail. That insight continues into this book. I listened to it on a long car ride, and the miles flew past. It is deeper than being only a story of the immigrant experience in the U.S., it has resonance for all of us in our families.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • S. Marie
  • Honolulu, HI United States
  • 12-04-03

A vivid portrait of an immigrant family

This story is wonderfully written and so utterly real and believable, I feel as if I know the characters personally. Though the plot turns and twists without a clear resolution, it is the story of a life, and like real life people and their desires change from moment to moment. An excellent read. You will not regret it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


I'm a fan of Lahiri's short fiction, so I looked forward to her first novel with great hope. The nonevent material that worked wonderful in short stories does not work in this novel. The lack of a structural direction is disappointing. I'd much prefer this book be broken up into series of short stories.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Indian Seinfeld Sans Humor

Seinfeld was a show about nothing. "The Namesake" is a book about nothing. The difference is Seinfeld was replete with nutty characters doing humorous things while this book is a humorless portrayal of a humorless man and his humorless family and their humorless lives. Compare this book to another book of Indian theme--"The Life of Pi" and you get snooze fest versus a riviting tale of survival and imagination. The only thing I can say good about this production is that the reader was brilliantly adept in her execution. She continually had a tenor to her voice that led me to believe that at any minute something was going to happen that would present itself as the arc of the story. Perhaps, she herself was waiting for something to happen. How can this book be so highly touted when it's devoid of the basic elements of a novel? Instead, this book reads more like a series of short stories, none of which ever finds its way.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Cynthia
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 11-20-11

Incredibly dull book

This book was so well reviewed, and my lifelong friend is the daughter of Indian immigrants, so I thought I would really enjoy the story. Unfortunately I have to agree with several other reviewers who said the book was about nothing. There appeared to be no other issue to the story than the fact that the main character was embarrassed about his name. I kept waiting for something to happen that was not completely mundane. I like a very wide variety of books and never stop reading a book just because it doesn't grab me right away, but this was just painful. I actually find it kind of humorous that so many people loved this book and I think it's just awful. I feel like someone who goes to an art gallery to see some "amazing" painting that everyone is raving about, only to discover it's just a blank white canvas on display!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful