Hey, what does your name mean?

Drafted in July 2007

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
I completed reading this novel a couple of months back. The title is self explanatory: its all about a name.

Many may be named after our ancestors that sounds to be obsolete when heard of the modern names. Some named after favourite deities of their parents, some named after the popular actors, musicians, role-model, sports person or even an author.

I had written about my name here and here.

Most of us may know the meaning of our name. Isn't it? The meaning might be a smile, beautiful, youthful, energetic.... What if my name has no meaning at all? When someone asks, "What does your name mean?", "Why were you named so?" And the worst thing that: we don't don't what it really means! Or we were just named after grandparents which the modern youth don't understand.

The Bengali couple, Ashoke Ganguli and Ashima, blessed with a baby boy in the US are not aware that the infants are named at the time of their birth unlike in India where the infants are named after a couple of months after their birth. Without a birth certificate, the hospital wouldn't discharge Ashima and the new born. Meanwhile, Ashoke names his son, "Gogol", a Russian author Nikolaoi Gogol, his all time favourite author whose novel had saved his life. Ashoke was always grateful to Gogol. Gogol becomes a "good" name instead of a pet name.

Ashima and Ashoke decide to change their son's name to Nikhil but the young brat loves being called Gogol and the couple continue calling him as per the child's wish. On a fine day, during school excursion to a cemetery, kids roam across gazing at the graves along with their names and the life span of each person. Gogol realizes that his name was obsolete just like the dead person's name who lived during the 18th or 19th century. "A child's mind is like a clay". A clay retains the shape we give. Learning that his name has no meaning and obsolete, his heart is filled with mere hatred to his parents and regrets living with them.

Jhumpa Lahiri describes the lives of Indians abroad, their solitude and being selfish, how children desert aged parents once they settled down in life, children's attitude towards their parents when they attain teenage.

The author, Jhumpa Lahiri, is also called Nilanjana Sudeshna, which is her good name.

The identity of a person is not by his "name", by his deeds.

I rate: 4.5/5


  1. I havent read the book. but I liked the movie a lot.

  2. drafted in 2007 and posted now? Wow! glad to c the review tho..

  3. I loved this book. and I like the names which have a meaning, and believe that they have an effect on personality, so children should be named with a lot of thought.

  4. I somehow found the book pretty average!!! In fact I found the movie better than the book :)

  5. Reema, Movie is short n good.

    How do we know, heheh.. yeah..

    Renu, :)

    Smita, cos movie was cut short n watchable


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