First post on the new domain – woohoo! Thanks to DJ Cayenne for all this computer geek stuff – and some might ask – where does he get the time????
Anyway – I was eager to read the latest book from Jhumpa Lahiri since I loved her first collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, which won the Pulitzer; alas – as it always seems to go – the 2nd is never as good as the first smash hit.
The Namesake is a coming of age story about Gogol, an Indian boy/man, who struggles with being raised by first generation immigrants in suburban America. While the story was certainly an enjoyable read, it fell short in its character development. All of the characters, particularly the protagonist and all his girlfriends, are very shallow. In extreme contrast to a recent book read by many of us, Lahiri goes in the opposite direction of Jonathan Lethem in that she does not do enough to delve into who Gogol is and what makes him tick. I actually preferred his parents as characters but again – Lahiri barely let us get to know the dad even though the whole premise of the book – naming his son after his favorite author, Nikolai Gogol, stemmed from him.
The most puzzling aspect of this book was why Lahiri chose to write from the male viewpoint. I think that she probably could have done a much better job had she picked Sonia (the sister) as the main character. The richer, better developed characters (the mom, Maxine and lastly Gogol’s wife – Moushumi) were all female. I don’t think that all writers must write on their own gender but if you’re struggling – stick to what you know………….
All that being said – it was a lighthearted and enjoyable read and I would recommend it as a good lazy Sunday or vacation book.