Jhumpa Lahiri, “The Namesake”
I’m not a huge fan of book reviews. They’re kind of like album reviews. “Cool, but I’d rather listen and make my own decision.” I feel the same way about descriptions of art or reviews of beer, inasmuch as why should someone tell me what I would like or wouldn’t like.
I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t mention that I just finished “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri and truly enjoyed the story & transformation of the protagonist, Gogol. I’d never read anything by Lahiri, as much as I’d been recommended her work.
(And I promise book reviews will not become a habit here. But I will take recommendations, and I will recommend them myself when I deem it necessary.)
She’s a terrific storyteller and, as I told my wife, I found myself more interested in the craft of the storytelling than the story itself. This isn’t a knock on Lahiri; I actually consider this a compliment. As a reader, I find myself trying to figure out how the story will conclude, where the author will go. Most readers do this, I think, and sometimes we succeed. In “The Namesake,” I was wrong, multiple times.
And I enjoyed the fact that I had no input (if that’s the right word, I know it’s not) on the outcome. The story remained the authors the entire way through the book, and not a collaboration where halfway through I knew where we’d end up and the author and I traveled there together. Just a very well done novel.
To all those people who recommended her to me: sorry it took my so long. Next up: “David & Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell. I usually oscillate between fiction and non-fiction and my weakness if Gladwell’s books. Some people hate him, some people love him. I’m in the latter group, and, I believe, Gladwell succeeds because he’s a great non-fiction storyteller.
What’s next for fiction books? Any recommendations?
- Video: Jhumpa Lahiri at Work (newyorker.com)
- “The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri: Two Reviews (lareviewofbooks.org)