The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri is not a book I would have picked up on my own.
My book club is discussing the book this month, so I was essentially forced into reading it.
I was also forced to finish it. I say forced because I would have given up after about three chapters had this not been a book for a discussion I’m expected to lead.
That’s not to say this book is a total wash. It’s not. By the end, I was a little curious as to what would happen to Gogol and Ashima. I was left wanting more… but….
I just couldn’t get into the book. There isn’t much action. The characters are, for the most part, not very deeply developed. You get the surface and some idea as to what is going on in their heads from time to time.
There is very little dialogue. The paragraphs and chapters are long.
I was left quite often asking “why should I care?” I don’t usually ask that with books. But I was asking that throughout this one. Why do I care about these characters? Why do I care about this plot? Why should I keep reading?
I was never really given a good reason.
As Lahiri won a Pulitzer Prize for her first work, Interpreter of Maladies, I’m sure there is some critical expertise I’m lacking to find this book outstanding.
Writing about the immigrant experience in a way that makes it clear what the reader should take away is a big undertaking. I’m sure Lahiri had good intentions with this book, but she failed to meet the bar in my opinion.