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The Namesake Audiobook, by Jhumpa Lahiri
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Author: Jhumpa Lahiri Narrator: Sarita Choudhury Publisher: Random House Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2003 ISBN: 9780739306963
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)
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The Namesake follows the Ganguli family through its journey from Calcutta to Cambridge to the Boston suburbs. Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli arrive in America at the end of the 1960s, shortly after their arranged marriage in Calcutta, in order for Ashoke to finish his engineering degree at MIT. Ashoke is forward-thinking, ready to enter into American culture if not fully at least with an open mind. His young bride is far less malleable. Isolated, desperately missing her large family back in India, she will never be at peace with this new world. Soon after they arrive in Cambridge, their first child is born, a boy. According to Indian custom, the child will be given two names: an official name, to be bestowed by the great-grandmother, and a pet name to be used only by family. But the letter from India with the child's official name never arrives, and so the baby's parents decide on a pet name to use for the time being. Ashoke chooses a name that has particular significance for him: on a train trip back in India several years earlier, he had been reading a short story collection by one of his most beloved Russian writers, Nikolai Gogol, when the train derailed in the middle of the night, killing almost all the sleeping passengers onboard. Ashoke had stayed awake to read his Gogol, and he believes the book saved his life. His child will be known, then, as Gogol. Lahiri brings her enormous powers of description to her first novel, infusing scene after scene with profound emotional depth. Condensed and controlled, The Namesake covers three decades and crosses continents, all the while zooming in at very precise moments on telling detail, sensory richness, and fine nuances of character. Download and start listening now!


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 Reviews

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  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 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 Emily | 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 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 Kristin | 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! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ammeke | 1/3/2014

    " And I don't even like short stories. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen | 12/10/2013

    " After reading many reviews I was skeptical about reading this book, but it did not disapoint! I absolutely love it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Soumya | 11/23/2013

    " Brilliant. Felt like I lived an entire set of lives. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mom | 11/5/2013

    " not one I would recommend "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lelia | 3/12/2013

    " Entrancing. She paints lovely word pictures! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather | 2/20/2013

    " I just love this book it's a beautiful a story of a son and a father "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristin | 2/1/2013

    " "Try to remember it always... Remember that you and I made this journey together, that we went together to a place where there was nowhere left to go." pg 187 "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marian | 12/22/2012

    " Absolutely one of the best books I have ever read. A page turner, a heart breaker. Lahri makes even the mundane momentous. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bunmi | 11/20/2012

    " This was the story of my life captured so vividly on paper. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ron | 9/22/2012

    " Interesting stuff as we incorporate multiple cultures. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Janine | 8/24/2012

    " Loved this. I recommended it for my book club. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Samara | 2/29/2012

    " I was assigned this book as a freshman in college. I hated it. It's dry, very dull and moves at a snails pace. It did however garner interest in Nikolai Gogol. whom I looked up and enjoyed after giving this book away. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carrie | 2/24/2012

    " I love a long detailed story about a family. Of course since it's a realistic story, it's very sad at times. The book centers on a woman, and then her son, but it manages to form a cohesive whole. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Em | 1/12/2012

    " I didn't realize how much I enjoyed it until it was over. I became very invested in the well-developed characters! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jais | 8/17/2011

    " the book was good. just finished reading it last night..... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Agnieszka | 5/24/2011

    " I have read better books, but as I had to read this one, I did that. Maybe if it is my choice to read it, it would be more fun. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alicia | 5/22/2011

    " A rare case where the movie is better than the book, although the film lacks some very important plot details. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cxqh | 5/21/2011

    " I liked it very much. Interesting and well told. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 April | 5/19/2011

    " Beautifully written story about a second-generation East Indian immigrant and his struggle between being Indian and being American. Favorite parts of the book are about the parents and their life in Bengal. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary | 5/17/2011

    " Such a beautiful and relatable story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carolina | 5/16/2011

    " Not bad. At the beginning, it was not sitting well with me, but in the end, I enjoyed it. Finished it off myself. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gillian | 5/15/2011

    " One of the most moving books I have read. While the writing was simple and stark, the emotions portrayed through the novel were deep and heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Lahiri's prose moved me to tears, not from sadness, but from the poignancy of the characters and their relevancy to my life. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Pamela | 5/14/2011

    " The writing is good, yet seemingly too crafted, perhaps contrived is the word. The book is somewhat interesting, but overall predictable. There are hardly any big surprises. Life isn't exactly easy the book is written as if it is. I wasn't impressed. "

About the Author

Jhumpa Lahiri is a London-born American author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction who has won more than a dozen awards and medals, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her debut short-story collection, Interpreter of Maladies. Among her other honors are the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, the Premio Gregor von Rezzori, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, the Premio Internazionale Viareggio-Versilia, the Addison Metcalf Award, and a National Humanities Medal. She is a professor of creative writing at Princeton University.

About the Narrator

Sarita Choudhury is an English actress best known for her roles in the Mira Nair-directed feature films Mississippi Masala, The Perez Family and Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love. She has also appeared in the TV series Homeland and is an AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator.