Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (and the film)


Any talk of The Namesake--Jhumpa Lahiri's follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning debut, Interpreter of Maladies--must begin with a name: Gogol Ganguli. Born to an Indian academic and his wife, Gogol is afflicted from birth with a name that is neither Indian nor American nor even really a first name at all. He is given the name by his father who, before he came to America to study at MIT, was almost killed in a train wreck in India. Rescuers caught sight of the volume of Nikolai Gogol's short stories that he held, and hauled him from the train. Ashoke gives his American-born son the name as a kind of placeholder, and the awkward thing sticks.

And now there's the film of the same name directed by Mira Nair and starring Kal Penn.

Read an extensive review here.



James Steerforth said...

I thought "The Interpreter of Maladies" was one of the best story collections I'd come across in a long time for its insight into the different characters combined with its warmth (among other things). I thought I detected 2 or 3 instances of "young writer having attended writing workshop" symptoms. Having liked the stories, I also got "The Namesake," but could never get into it. Another person, whose judgment I trust, put it succinctly; she said she thought it was a novel based on an idea that only had enough mileage for a short story. I am a great admirer of Mira Nair's films, so I will definitely see the film when I get a chance.

the teach said...

James, I didn't think "The Namesake" was as good as "Interpreter" But I'm going to read it again and see. The trailers from the movie inspired me again.