Finished reading on October 28th, 2013
It is slightly difficult to put it into words what this book is like. For most of the time when I was reading it I just would have wanted to see it all as a sort of doll-house and just grab the characters and send them somewhere where they’d all be happy and just eliminate some of the others.
“The Namesake” is about the life of Gogol Ganguli, an American born to a Bengali family named Gogol after the famous Russian writer Nikolai Gogol. For about half of the book the name “Gogol” is the main problem. Not to me. To Gogol and a little to his parents in the beginning as well.
The book starts with Ashima Ganguli’s pregnancy.
And there was a nice description there about being a foreigner:
“For being a foreigner, Ashima is beginning to realize, is a sort of lifelong pregnancy – a perpetual wait, a constant burden, a continuous feeling out of sorts.”
This is why it’s difficult to write about this book. It sort of makes you feel uncomfortable for the characters, for the Ganguli’s. The kind of feeling that you want to let them rest somehow, like after a long week at work you’d just want to sleep until lunch-time on the weekend. I got that kind of feeling that that’s what they’d need only in a slightly different way, but that seems impossible, because even when the Gangulis go to Calcutta for vacation they don’t seem to be much more at home, at least their children aren’t…
So I found the book quite sad and a little depressing. It is good though, but the people seem a bit ghostly and out of touch with the world around them just because of not quite fitting in.
I really liked the ending:
“For now, he starts to read.”
Finally! That’s what I was expecting all along, and now he finally has the time! But still the book is sad.
Surprisingly I couldn’t really understand Gogol, I felt closer to Ashima and Ashoke they seemed a lot more relate-able… The novel goes from Gogol Ganguli’s childhood and schooldays to his life at the university and later as an architect all the way until he’s 32, that’s when the book ends. But in between there’s marriage and death and divorce and all sorts of complicated things.
And there’s a movie that was made based on the novel! I have yet to see it, but the trailer seems fine and IMDb rating is 7.4.