Transnational Belonging to “The Namesake”

M.C. Subhashini
Ph.D. Research Scholar (External), Department of English,
Annamalai University, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India
Dr. K.N. Sharmila
Assisstant Professor of English, FEAT
Annamalai University, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India
Volume 6, Issue 1, December 2017, Pages: 99-107
ISSN: 2320-2645, UGC Approved Journal No. 44248, Impact Factor: 3.125

Abstract

The Namesake depicts the life and struggles of Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli, two first-generation immigrants from West Bengal (Kolkata), India to the United States, and their American-born children Gogol and Sonia. Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli, immigrants in America, welcome their first baby boy into the world. They require giving their son an official name to be on the birth certificate and to release from their hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts. So they must break with Bengali custom, and Ashoke has got this one covered. He names their son Gogol, after the Russian novelist. Apparently, Gogol saved Ashoke’s life when he was injured in a train crash in India, back in 1961. Gogol for him means books of the author and not the man himself. Gangulis eventually move to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they raise Gogol and, a few years later, their daughter Sonia. Growing up, Gogol gradually realizes that his name is quite unusual, and he doesn’t like that. Annoyed by the Bengali customs of his parents, Gogol embraces American popular culture. Gogol Ganguli knows 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, scattered with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs. She reveals the defining power of the names and expectations bestowed upon us by our parents and the means by which we slowly, sometimes painfully, come to define ourselves. The summer before he leaves to attend college at Yale, he officially changes his name to Nikhil. Gogol is no more.

Keywords

immigration, assimilation, family relations, travelling
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