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The Namesake By Jumpa Lahiri

Jumpa Lahiri has done it again. After her marvelous debut short story collection titled
Interpreter Of Maldies, she has delivered The Namesake (now a Hollywood movie as well). If
anyone had any doubt her talent after reading Interpreter Of Maladies, they would be surely
removed once they finish The Namesake. The way she builds her characters early in the novel
through short story type episodes and then weaves unexpected turns of events all through the
novel is truly amazing and refreshing to read in today’s fiction writing.

Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli are immigrants to Boston from India when they give birth to their
son. Their son ends up with the name of Gogul, just because his "good name" never arrives from
his grandmother in India. Gogul hates his name and grows up as American as he can while his
parents stick to their Bengali past. The unfortunate Gogol is tethered to this dual Indian-American
life, never quite fitting anywhere. At first he shifts to Americanization, pushing aside the Indian
rituals. But after a number of relationship failures and some few successes, Gogol is attracted to
the comfort of his heritage. His perspective changes dramatically over the course of events,
especially when he sets a bond with his father as well as the name given to him.

Jhumpa Lahiri has written a wonderful novel about immigrant lives, families, and bonds that can
never be broken. Gogol’s story is actually a simple one, as lived by many Indians in America.
This is surely one of the best ones in recent times

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Jhumpa Lahiri

Nilanjana Sudeshna
Born 11 July 1967 (age 41)
London, England
Notable work(s) Interpreter of Maladies (1999)
1999 O. Henry Award
Notable award(s)
2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Jhumpa Lahiri (IPA: /ˈdʒuːm.pʌ lʌˈhɪər.iː/[2]) (born Nilanjana Sudeshna on 11 July

1967) (Bengali: ঝুমা লািিড়ী Jhumpa Lahiŗi) is an American author of Bengali Indian descent.
Lahiri's debut short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies (1999), won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize
for Fiction, and her first novel, The Namesake (2003), was adapted into the popular film of the
same name.[3]

Lahiri's writing is characterized by her "plain" language and her characters, often Indian
immigrants to America who must navigate between the cultural values of their birthplace and
their adopted home.[3][4] Lahiri's fiction is autobiographical and frequently draws upon her own
experiences as well as those of her parents, friends, acquaintances, and others in the Bengali
communities with which she is familiar. Lahiri inserts struggles, anxieties, and biases under a
microscope so as to better chronicle the nuances and details of immigrant psychology and
behavior. No gesture, no sorrow is spared in her examinations. Until Unaccustomed Earth, her
concerns were confined, for the most part, to Indian emigrant parents to America and their
struggle to raise a family in a country very different from theirs. She wrote about first-generation
immigrant parents' struggles to keep their children acquainted with the Indian culture and
traditions. She wrote about how the parents struggle to keep their children close to them even
after they have grown up in order to hang on to the Indian tradition of a joint family, where the
parents, their children and the children’s family live under the same roof. In her recent
Unaccustomed Earth, she steps forward to a scrutiny of the fate of the second generation and their
children. As succeeding generations become increasingly assimilated into Western culture and are
comfortable in constructing global perspectives, Lahiri's fiction shifts to the needs of the
individual. The readers sees more clearly the departure of the second and following generations
from the constraints of their parents. The latter were especially devoted to community and their
responsibility to other immigrants; in Unaccustomed Earth there is a departure from the original
ethos, and Lahiri's characters embark on paths marked by alienation and self-obsession.

[edit] Personal life and education

Lahiri was born in London, the daughter of Indian immigrants. Her family moved to the
United States when she was three; Lahiri considers herself an American, stating, "I wasn't born
here, but I might as well have been." [5] Lahiri grew up in Kingston, Rhode Island, where her
father worked as a librarian at the University of Rhode Island;[5] the protagonist of Lahiri's story
"The Third and Final Continent" is based on her father. [6] Lahiri's mother wanted her children to
grow up knowing of their Bengali heritage,[citation needed] and her family often visited relatives in
Calcutta, India.[7]

When she began kindergarten in Kingston, Lahiri's teacher decided to call her by her pet
name, Jhumpa, because it was easier to pronounce than her "good names".[5] Lahiri recalled, "I
always felt so embarrassed by my name...You feel like you're causing someone pain just by being
who you are."[8] Lahiri's ambivalence over her identity was the inspiration for the ambivalence of
Gogol, the protagonist of her novel The Namesake, over his unusual name.[5] Lahiri graduated
from South Kingstown High School, and received her B.A. in English literature from Barnard
College in 1989.[9]

Lahiri then received multiple degrees from Boston University: an M.A. in English, an
M.A. in Creative Writing, an M.A. in Comparative Literature and a Ph.D. in Renaissance Studies.
She took up a fellowship at Provincetown's Fine Arts Work Center, which lasted for the next two
years (1997–1998). Lahiri taught creative writing at Boston University and the Rhode Island
School of Design.

In 2001, Lahiri married Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush, a journalist who was then Deputy
Editor of TIME Latin America. Lahiri lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and their
two children, Octavio (b. 2002) and Noor (b. 2005).[8]

[edit] Literary career

During her six years at Boston University, Lahiri worked on short stories, [6] nine of which
were collected in her debut book, Interpreter of Maladies (1999). The stories address sensitive
dilemmas in the lives of Indians or Indian immigrants, with themes such as marital difficulties,
miscarriages, and the disconnection between first and second generation United States
immigrants. Lahiri later wrote, "When I first started writing I was not conscious that my subject
was the Indian-American experience. What drew me to my craft was the desire to force the two
worlds I occupied to mingle on the page as I was not brave enough, or mature enough, to allow in
life."[4] The collection was praised by American critics, but received mixed reviews in India,
where reviewers were alternately enthusiastic and upset Lahiri had "not paint[ed] Indians in a
more positive light."[10] Interpreter of Maladies won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for fiction (only the
seventh time a story collection had won the award), and sold 600,000 copies.[11][5]

In 2003, Lahiri published The Namesake, her highly-anticipated first novel.[10] The book
spans more than thirty years in the life of a fictional family, the Gangulis. The Calcutta-born
parents immigrated to the United States as young adults, and their children, Gogol and Sonia,
grow up in the United States experiencing the constant generational and cultural gap between
their parents and them. A film adaptation of The Namesake was released in March 2007, directed
by Mira Nair and starring Kal Penn as Gogol and Bollywood stars Tabu and Irrfan Khan as his

Lahiri's second collection of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth, was released on April 1,
2008. Upon its publication, Unaccustomed Earth achieved the rare distinction of debuting on The
New York Times best seller list in the number 1 slot.[12] New York Times Book Review editor
Dwight Garner stated, "It’s hard to remember the last genuinely serious, well-written work of
fiction — particularly a book of stories — that leapt straight to No. 1; it’s a powerful
demonstration of Lahiri’s newfound commercial clout."[12]

Since 2005, Lahiri has been a Vice President of the PEN American Center, an organization
designed to promote friendship and intellectual cooperation among writers.

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] Short story collections

• Interpreter of Maladies (1999)
• Unaccustomed Earth (2008)

[edit] Novels

• The Namesake (2003)

[edit] Short stories

• "Nobody's Business" (11 March 2001, The New Yorker) ("The Best American Short
Stories 2002")
• "Hell-Heaven" (24 May 2004, The New Yorker)
• "Once In A Lifetime" (1 May 2006, The New Yorker)
• "Year's End" (24 December 2007, The New Yorker)

[edit] Awards

• 1993 — TransAtlantic Award from the Henfield Foundation

• 1999 — O. Henry Award for short story "Interpreter of Maladies"
• 1999 — PEN/Hemingway Award (Best Fiction Debut of the Year) for "Interpreter of
• 1999 — "Interpreter of Maladies" selected as one of Best American Short Stories
• 2000 — Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters
• 2000 — The New Yorker's Best Debut of the Year for "Interpreter of Maladies"
• 2000 — Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her debut Interpreter of Maladies
• 2000 — James Beard Foundation's M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award for
"Indian Takeout" in Food & Wine Magazine
• 2002 — Guggenheim Fellowship
• 2002 - "Nobody's Business" selected as one of "Best American Short Stories"
• 2008 - Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award for "Unaccustomed Earth"

[edit] Contributions

• (Introduction) The Magic Barrel: Stories by Bernard Malamud, Farrar, Straus and
Giroux, July 2003.
• (Introduction) Malgudi Days by R.K. Narayan, Penguin Classics, August 2006.

[edit] References

1. ^ "The Hum Inside the Skull, Revisited", The New York Times, 2005-01-16. Retrieved
on 2008-04-12.
2. ^ See inogolo:pronunciation of Jhumpa Lahiri.
3. ^ a b Chotiner, Isaac. "Interviews: Jhumpa Lahiri", The Atlantic, 2008-03-18. Retrieved on
4. ^ a b Lahiri, Jhumpa. "My Two Lives", Newsweek, 2006-03-06. Retrieved on 2008-04-13.
5. ^ a b c d e Minzesheimer, Bob. "For Pulitzer winner Lahiri, a novel approach", USA Today,
2003-08-19. Retrieved on 2008-04-13.
6. ^ a b Flynn, Gillian. "Passage To India: First-time author Jhumpa Lahiri nabs a Pulitzer",
Entertainment Weekly, 2000-04-28. Retrieved on 2008-04-13.
7. ^ Aguiar, Arun. "One on One With Jhumpa Lahiri", Pifmagazine.com, 1999-07-28.
Retrieved on 2008-04-13.
8. ^ a b Anastas, Benjamin. "Books: Inspiring Adaptation", Men's Vogue, March 2007.
Retrieved on 2008-04-13.
9. ^ "Pulitzer Prize awarded to Barnard alumna Jhumpa Lahiri ’89; Katherine Boo ’88 cited
in public service award to The Washington Post", Barnard Campus News, 2000-04-11.
Retrieved on 2008-04-13.
10. ^ a b Wiltz, Teresa. "The Writer Who Began With a Hyphen: Jhumpa Lahiri, Between Two
Cultures", The Washington Post, 2003-10-08. Retrieved on 2008-04-15.
11. ^ Farnsworth, Elizabeth. "Pulitzer Prize Winner-Fiction", PBS NewsHour, 2000-04-12.
Retrieved on 2008-04-15.
12. ^ a b Garner, Dwight. "Jhumpa Lahiri, With a Bullet" The New York Times Paper Cuts
blog, 2008-04-10. Retrieved on 2008-04-12.

[edit] External links

Literature portal

• Official Website: www.jhumpalahiri.net


• Jhumpa Lahiri at The Steven Barclay Agency

• SAWNET biography
• SAJA biography
• Biography
• Voices From the Gaps Biography


• Lahiri in context of the Subcontinent

• NPR Interview on Fresh Air
• Research on Lahiri (Bibliographical Information)

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jhumpa_Lahiri"