Monday, January 10, 2011

In Progress: The Namesake

Sigh. I had a pretty awful weekend of book reading. I burned through my 8 YA novels, but it really started to wear on me. Even though the books were all pretty decent, something about reading for work vs. reading for *me* made me feel exhausted and more than a little cranky.

I read The Namesake a little last night. I just wanted to make some progress. There's nothing worse than a New Year's resolution that's unresolved.

Either way, here's what's happening in The Namesake. The novel starts with the introduction of a Bengali couple, Ashimi and Ashoke Ganguli. Ashimi goes into labor, and this being 1968, her husband rushes her to the hospital and is promptly shunned from the birth-givin' facilities. I don't know if this is compelling to anyone else, but since I remember all too well the night Darrell rushed me to the hospital to give birth, I found the whole beginning interesting and engaging. The frightening endeavor of giving birth for the first time! And to be all alone and away from your family when it happens! Ashimi is horrified, and feels sorry for her son that he's been born in such a lonely way.

I need to feel connected to the characters in the books I read. Otherwise, I just don't enjoy them very much. I sympathized with Ashimi as she struggles with being a young mother, even though there are ways in which I felt very different. For example, I remember being pretty happy that I didn't have to deal with anyone else in my family when I gave birth! Never have I felt so American. I love my mother---but I'd have been pretty horrified to have her around when I had the baby. (Note to self: probably best not to share this blog with Mom.)

Anyways, the baby is born and because they don't have his formal name, they're forced to put his pet/family name, Gogol, on the birth certificate. I'm lucky enough to have some Bengali friends (Hi Dipankar & Kelly!) who had explained the importance of naming to me before, and so all of this was easy for me to understand.

I'm loving the writing and the story of the Ganguli family. I've finished about 5 chapters and might just sit down and read a little more tonight. The book shows Gogol growing up pretty quickly and he's ambivalent about the world knowing his family name. Right now, he's still a young boy, but I speculate he'll be a teenager before long. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I like his parents as characters and I don't want them to fall by the wayside.

Making any progress on your first choice?

PS Remember when I said that this copy of The Namesake might actually be yours? Um, here's visual confirmation of that. Let me know if you want this back when I finish!

1 comment:

  1. Heh. Hilarious to see my name in there! I am now starting to remember this book, so thanks for the review. And no, I don't need it back.

    Haven't made much progress on mine yet (read: not started) as I am engrossed in reading trash on my Kindle. This is a hard habit to break -- I should have chosen a juicier book to start the year with for this challenge! :)