Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Namesake

I'm a bit behind on posting about books, so I might have missed a few that I read. Oh, well. My most recent book is The Namesake, which I picked up because my mom had a copy of it and I was looking for something to read.

For the most part, it was excellent.

The Namesake is Gogol Ganguli. His parents are Indian immigrants to the United States. Gogol was supposed to be a pet name, chosen because of a connection his father had to the Russian writer Gogol. But for various reasons, Gogol's name stuck. It's appropriate because the name mirrors the difficulty Gogol has in finding his place in the world. It's not Indian, but it's not American either, and neither is Gogol.

Gogol struggles for his entire life to find his place in the world. He finds his parents awkward and embarassing at times and is reluctant to leave his friends for extended trips to Calcutta. But in India, he is so moved by the Taj Mahal that he ends up being an architect. He falls in love with a very waspy girl and winds up living with her and her parents in what appears to be a true life Woody Allen movie. He's happy with her, but still feels this concept of "other"-ness. And when his father dies, he realizes that his ties to his own family were stronger than he'd realized.

For a while, it looks like Gogol has managed to find his place in the world, when he marries an Indian girl. But their relationship is doomed by the fact that neither of them have quite accepted who they are yet.

As I was coming to the end of the book, I kept hoping that Gogol would somehow find his place in the world. That somehow, things would be resolved. It never happened, and in retrospect, that seemed appropriate to me.

1 comment:

K said...

I really liked The Namesake, too. I too wished for a happier ending, but you're right, it's probably appropriate that he didn't.