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The Namesake.

Jhumpa Lahiri. 2003. Read by Sarita Choudhury. 6 tapes. 10 hrs. Random House Audio. 0-7393-0695-2. $34.95. Cardboard; plot, author, reader notes. SA

American-born Gogol Ganguli hates his name, and doesn't care that his Indian father chose it in memory of the Russian writer, even if that Gogol was a genius. So the summer before he enters Yale, Gogol goes down to the Middlesex County Courthouse in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and changes his first name to Nikhil. Now, he can truly start to make his own way in America, as an American. His parents, Ashok and Ashima Ganguli, are successful immigrants from Calcutta, who have made the typical progression from a modest apartment to a gadget-crammed house in the suburbs. Still, they spend their Saturday nights socializing with other Bengali couples and hope above all that their children will marry people of Indian descent. Where will Gogol and his sister Sonya find happiness--and their true selves?

Brilliant is the word often used to describe the work of Lahiri, winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies (the audiobook was reviewed in KLIATT, May 2002). It's a word entirely deserved for her cinematically vivid and perceptive writing. Actress Choudhury (Mississippi Masala) is an ideal narrator: her accents are pitch-perfect, and her warm, slightly breathy voice conveys empathy and understanding of the characters. The story of the Gangulis lingers in our minds--gently ironic, bittersweet, and true to life. Helen Woodman, Andover, NH
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Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Woodman, Helen
Publication:Kliatt
Article Type:Audiobook Review
Date:Mar 1, 2004
Words:247
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