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Extended Audio Sample The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (106,107 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jhumpa Lahiri Narrator: Sarita Choudhury Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies established this young writer as one the most brilliant of her generation. Her stories are one of the very few debut works—and only a handful of collections—to have won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Among the many other awards and honors it received were the New Yorker Debut of the Year award, the PEN/Hemingway Award, and the highest critical praise for its grace, acuity, and compassion in detailing lives transported from India to America. In The Namesake, Lahiri enriches the themes that made her collection an international bestseller: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation, and, most poignantly, the tangled ties between generations. Here again Lahiri displays her deft touch for the perfect detail—the fleeting moment, the turn of phrase—that opens whole worlds of emotion.

The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged wedding, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world. Named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents in memory of a catastrophe years before, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name.

Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along the first-generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs. With penetrating insight, she reveals not only the defining power of the names and expectations bestowed upon us by our parents, but also the means by which we slowly, sometimes painfully, come to define ourselves. The New York Times has praised Lahiri as “a writer of uncommon elegance and poise.” The Namesake is a fine-tuned, intimate, and deeply felt novel of identity.

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Quotes & Awards

  • The Namesake is that rare thing: an intimate, closely observed family portrait that effortlessly and discreetly unfolds to disclose a capacious social vision…In chronicling more than three decades in the Gangulis’ lives, Ms. Lahiri has not only given us a wonderfully intimate and knowing family portrait, she has also taken the haunting chamber music of her first collection of stories and reorchestrated its themes of exile and identity to create a symphonic work, a debut novel that is as assured and eloquent as the work of a longtime master of the craft.”

    New York Times

  • “This is a fine novel from a superb writer…In the end, this quiet book makes a very large statement about courage, determination, and above all, the majestic ability of the human animal to endure and prosper.”

    Washington Post

  • “Lahiri’s writing is assured and patient, inspiring immediate confidence that we are in trustworthy hands. Lahiri beautifully conveys the émigré’s disorientation, nostalgia, and yearning for tastes, smells, and customs left behind.”

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • “Poignant…A novel of exquisite and subtle tension, spanning two generations and continents and a plethora of emotional compromises in between…The Namesake is a story of guilt and liberation; it speaks to the universal struggle to extricate ourselves from the past—from family and obligation and the curse of history.”

    Boston Globe

  • “A moving first novel…Lahiri writes beautifully controlled prose.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Memorable fiction…Lahiri’s gift is for shrewd insight into character done up in elegantly understated prose…Astringent and clear-eyed in thought, vivid in its portraiture, attuned to American particulars and universal yearnings.”


  • “Extraordinary…An insightful and descriptive take on family, tradition, and self-acceptance…Jhumpa Lahiri is an accomplished novelist of the first rank.”

    San Diego Union-Tribune

  • The Namesake…confirms what her first book suggested—that she’s a writer of uncommon grace and sympathy.”

    San Jose Mercury News

  • The Namesake does such a remarkable job of depicting the importance of family and how people cope in unfamiliar terrain that it is one of the best works of fiction published this year.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Achingly artful, Lahiri’s first novel showcases her prodigious gifts.”

    Baltimore Sun

  • “A book to savor, certainly one of the best of the year, and further proof that this immensely talented writer’s prizewinning ways are far from over.”

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  • “A poignant, beautifully crafted tale of culture shock…Reading it, anyone will understand how it feels to be a cultural outsider.”

    Fort Worth Morning Star-Telegram

  • “Emotionally charged and deeply poignant, Lahiri’s tale provides panoramic views of her characters’ lives.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “An enjoyably old-fashioned novel…written in clear, quietly elegant prose…A gifted storyteller, Lahiri has proven her literary mettle.”

    Raleigh News and Observer

  • The Namesake is a quietly moving first novel…Intensely absorbing…Locates the universality in precisely evoked individuality.”

    Columbus Dispatch

  • “Lahiri’s multiple gifts for storytelling, character development, and delicately precise imagery result in a rare and wonderful tale.”

    Orlando Sentinel

  • “Against all that is irrational and inevitable about life, Lahiri posits the timeless, borderless eloquence and permanence of great writing.”

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • “Sparingly beautiful prose…Lahiri’s novel ultimately dramatizes a common experience shared by all people: the search for identity.”

    Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

  • “Lahiri’s style in this novel, as in her short fiction, is graceful and beautiful.”

    San Antonio Express-News

  • “Hugely appealing…Gracefully written and filled with well-observed details, Lahiri’s novel—like her hero—manages to bridge two very different societies and to give us the absolute best of both.”


  • “This eagerly anticipated debut novel deftly expands on Lahiri’s signature themes of love, solitude, and cultural disorientation.”

    Harper’s Bazaar

  • “Lahiri’s graceful first novel more than fulfills the promise of her Pulitzer-winning story collection…The exquisitely detailed saga of the Ganguli family…becomes the classic story of American immigration and assimilation.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Lahiri handles issues of assimilation and belonging with her trademark mix of quiet observation and heartbreaking honesty.”


  • New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books, 2003
  • A 2003 Entertainment Weekly Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2003 Newsday’s Favorite Books of the Year for Fiction
  • A 2004 Audie Award Finalist
  • A 2003 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Fiction
  • A 2003 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Beverly | 1/22/2014

    " I liked this novel, but there is a monotone style that got a bit tiring. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Emily Lazar | 1/18/2014

    " The author does a beautiful job of describing minute moments in the lives of the characters in this story, that like so many of our own lives, simply get erased with the brush stoke of time. However, these details, these moments, and sometimes unpredictable events, are all forces that shape our personhood. This book explores the evolving life of an American-born Bengali boy, who wrestles with his self identify throughout his passages from child to teenager to adult. During these years he uses the people in his life as leverage for who he ultimately wants to be (his conservative Indian family, his work and college friends, his short- and long-term lovers). This book made me realize that the simple joys and pains of being human transcend all cultures and ages. Can we accept the lives we were born into? This, perhaps, is the key to happiness. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Annie | 1/9/2014

    " Loved it! I can't say enough. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Kristin Herrick | 1/6/2014

    " This was a very interesting look into a world that I didn't know much of anything about. I enjoyed the journey! "

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