Monday, November 21, 2016

The Namesake

Our old neighbor Gideon mentioned on Facebook that he was taking a break from social media and was going to read novels and walk his dog for a while.  That sounded fairly prudent for me, though it is tough for me to do so, and I have cats.

In any case, I thought he was right about reading a novel, so I went for one that I've had on my shelf for a while -- Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake. Mary and I had seen the movie when it came out, and rightly so, as it's good viewing, so I needed for the film to fade in memory to make the book worth reading.

For the first two-thirds of the book, it was difficult to separate the book in my mind from the Trump election, first the focus on coming to America and assimilating (a frequent theme of Lahiri's, which she handles well), and then the protagonist's path and mine began to intersect: college at Yale, then living in New York City, having girlfriends who expose you to the rarefied aesthetic of the cultured Manhattan elite. It all read like an elegy for a time and place that whose face has been ripped off by the election.

But now that the main character's dad has died and he is processing that loss, it has become emotionally real and proximate, something else the author is good at, at her best. So I read on.

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