Updated: Mar 6, 2021
“What's in a name? that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.” - William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.
We all have come across this quote in our lives, haven’t we? Moreover, we have lived by it. What is in a name? Does it have any consequence as it’s the person who holds it. Well, there’s a lot in a name. At Least I second the latter thought after reading the incredible work of Jhumpa Lahiri. She has knit a perfect piece of story revolving on a subject as simple as a NAME. Yet so profoundly important. The complexities related to it and the eventual acceptance of the same as one’s identity. A name is someone’s treasure, someone’s identity and someone’s sanity too at times.
Talking about the book, it revolves around “Gogol Ganguly” who is an American Indian kid in a foreign land with a peculiar name which is geographically amusing and hence a shame for him to carry when he is old enough to understand the fact. The story starts much before his birth when his Gogol’s father, Ashoke Ganguly, being an avid reader, discovers his love for Russian writers and more precisely Nikolai Gogol. He relates to his life so much that he starts admiring him in-spite of the unusual life the writer led. His work “The overcoat” became his favourite (I added it in my TBR list too *wink*) that he passed to his son on his 18th birthday. The reason for Ashoke naming his son Gogol is not merely a straight fact that Nikolai Gogol was his favourite but there is a backstory to that is related to Ashoke’s earlier days in India but what is that and how does that incident become a significant thing in his and his son’s life, well that’s a catch for which I wish my readers to dig in.
Ashoke moved to America and later called his wife there. They permanently settle there making their children Gogol and Sonia more American than Indian. The kids feared visiting India as they wanted to prohibit the cultural shocks they had to face. However, Ashoke and his wife Aashima were still attached to their roots so much so that they had more Indian acquaintances abroad than the native Americans. They wanted the same for their kids too but like fate has its own choice, hence, the exact opposite happened. However, they never forced their kids to follow their footprints but allowed them to decide their own ways.
The story never gets boring or cliched as it does not talk about the name of Gogol only but covers different themes like love, parenting, loss, emotional breakdown, betrayal too (just to name a few. The readers would surely go on a roller coaster ride of emotions while reading the very famous book by Jhumpa Lahiri which has also been presented as a movie on the silver screen with fine actors like Irfan Khan and Tabu. Now you know what I am talking about. Do I need to say I highly recommend this book? Lol ! Go and grab a copy folks !
Happy Reading !