Friday, June 3, 2011

The Namesake

by Jhumpa Lahiri

I have mixed feelings about this book. The first I knew about it (that I remember) was from seeing a trailer for the movie. Naturally I thought, Well I should read the book before I go ahead a order the movie. And I did just that. But the movie trailer gave me a very different impression of the book.

First of all, this book is slow. There is something about Lahiri's writing that feels very measured and controlled and deliberate. Because of that, the book feels very slow-paced. The story, for me, didn't really pick up until after Gogol's father died. And even then Lahiri put on the breaks quickly thereafter. The emotional highs and lows of the book feel very restrained. It feels as though Lahiri puts a vast distance between herself and her writing.

Gogol's parents didn't seem all that upset by his and his sister's "American" life choices. And when they were, it felt a little out of place, because they had so encouraged their children to assimilate, even celebrating Christmas. I thought there would have been stronger conflict.

All in all, I wasn't too impressed by this book. I didn't find anything too remarkable about it. It is telling of first generation Americans and their relationship to their parents and the conflict of cultures, but, for me, it just didn't push far enough, didn't go deep enough emotionally. It left me feeling pretty lukewarm.

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