Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
My mom gave this book to me. I haven't been particularly fond of Jhumpa Lahiri after reading "Interpreter of Maladies". Ihe stories were good but after 2-3, I felt I only needed to read the introduction and I could pen down the rest of the story. However, this being a largely acclaimed novel of his I thought of giving it a try and yes it was pretty engrossing! At every page, I wanted to know how the story would unravel on the next!
The story starts with an indian couple based in US - the husband did his schooling here while the wife came over by virtue of the marriage. First quarter is devoted to the wife, how she feels alienated initially and has a hard time. Slowly and gradually she gets adjusted and gives birth to a baby boy. The rest of the story is centered around this boy who's named Gogol (after the author Nikolai Gogol). When he goes to the school for the first time, his parents want to give him a more formal name Nikhil; but he likes to be called Gogol. So he's stuck with Gogol to his parents' disappointment. However, as he grows up and has to explain to all and sundry the hows and whys of his name, he realizes he doesn't want to be called Gogol and changes his name to Nikhil. All through this he's angry with his parents for giving him such a name. He dislikes it even more when he comes to know that life of the namesake author was full of sadness; little did he know why his father was so attached to that name. In his youth, he dislikes all things Indian including people and culture. He has an american girl friend, lives with her, in her parents' house, eats american food and in an american fashion. Hardly caring about his own family. Not for long. His father's death jolts him out of his reverie and it is interesting to see how his attitude changes towards his family.
Like his namesake, I think his life was also miserable - all due to his own attitude.
The story is not out of the ordinary. I would say that's the typical story of an American-born Indian in those times and that's exactly the reason we've an acronym ABCD (American-born confused desi); but the way he has written is very interesting.