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?


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