Let’s take a break from the Victorian literature. I’d love to create a series of the ugly truths that tell my shifted reading viewpoints. As I read more books from different authors, my reading taste changes, so as my opinions. Indian-American Pulitzer award winner, Jhumpa Lahiri is the first author that I’d like to talk about.
One of the most pleasant things in life is finding a very good book without expecting it whatsoever. I don’t intentionally check the internet, don’t read reviews. Then, I step into a bookstore, immediately get amazed by the first few pages, pay for the novel, enjoy reading it, each and every single page of the book. I close it with a very happy heart or mixed feelings.
Such things happen with me and Lahiri’s ‘The Namesake’ (2003).
I really love ‘The Namesake’. I don’t write the review of the novel because I have forgotten many details of it. The novel explores the life of an Indian couple living in the United States. The way they cope with the Western culture in the new land, how they preserve the ancestors culture and what values they can teach to their son, Gogol, are main issues in the novel. Gogol, which is taken from the name of Russian writer Nikolai Gogol, gets ashamed with his name. He changes his name but then realizes his identity has very little thing to do with the name.
What I really like about the book is that it conveys a very deep message about self-identity, cross culture understanding and Western vs Eastern culture, some things that are very commonplace. Another best thing about this book is that it is written in a very beautiful language, simple plot yet impressive. Lahiri’s writings are very fabulous in a kind of simple way.
While my first reading experience with Lahiri is proven very memorable I don’t want to read another work. After ‘The Namesake’, I intended reading ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ (1999) that brought her the prestigious award but I didn’t do that because (1) I don’t like reading short stories as they are short and because (2) it tells, again, about problems, issues regarding identity and Western-Eastern cultures. At least, that’s what I get from reading reviews. More or less.
‘Unaccustomed Earth’ (2008) and ‘The Lowland’ (2013) speak about similar issues. I know it’s too quick to judge the books are easily predicted but knowing they bring up similar themes has had discouraged me. I get bored already.
What to expect if I change my mind one day is to enjoy Lahiri’s wonderful, very amazing writing skill. Modestly-crafted yet stunning. I have once watched her interviews then I was wowed by her soft-spoken, nice attitude.
But for now, my opinions remain the same. With the long to-be-read novel list written in the Victorian era, Jhumpa Lahiri’s books aren’t in my mind at least in months to come.