Tag Archives: Jhumpa Lahiri

WWW Wednesday, 26-September-2018

26 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m making slow progress on Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I’ve tried to pull this out of my pocket every moment I can but it’s still a slow go. I’ll have to be a bit better at dedicating time to it in the next few weeks to wrap up before it returns again.
I decided to put The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl on hold for a bit to move forward with some book club picks. I’m afraid those are starting to pile up quite a bit!
I’m in love with A Column of Fire by Ken Follett and am finding excuses to run errands so I can listen to it. I’m almost halfway already. I hope I can renew this one a few more times to finish it up. Driving to and from school so often is helping a lot!
I decided to pick up The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert and try to knock it out quickly so I can get back to Poe. It’s a short book and I’m about a quarter of the way in so far. With luck, this will be finished next week.
I began a new eaudiobook as well and I’m so excited to say that it’s The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz. I wasn’t sure how to feel about this one when it came out, but my mom liked it so I thought I’d try to go into it impartial. So far, so good.

Recently finished: I was able to wrap up The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri thanks to all my running in the past weeks. I’m revving up for a half marathon so I expect my eaudiobooks to fall faster and faster! It was interesting that I was reading two books at the same time about characters born in India. Thankfully, this did not run together with Umrigar’s book at all. I enjoyed The Lowland, though not as much as I enjoyed Lahiri’s first novel. I’ll read a third if she decides to write it. I posted my review Monday so please check that out. I gave it four out of five stars.

Reading Next:  Artemis by Andy Weir is still my top choice. I hope I can get to it soon but I can feel another book club selection baring down on me soon. I’m trying not to think about it. We’ll see how I do with all these pressures!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Advertisements

Book Review: The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (4/5)

24 Sep

After my book club read another Lahiri book, I knew I needed to pick up her other full-length novel, The Lowland. I picked up a used copy though I can’t remember where. I finally got to this book on audio, making time to squeeze it into a busy summer. It was great for long runs in the beautiful weather.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Other books by Lahiri reviewed on this blog:

The Namesake (and book club reflection and movie review)

Summary from Goodreads:

From Subhash’s earliest memories, at every point, his brother was there. In the suburban streets of Calcutta where they wandered before dusk and in the hyacinth-strewn ponds where they played for hours on end, Udayan was always in his older brother’s sight. So close in age, they were inseparable in childhood and yet, as the years pass – as U.S tanks roll into Vietnam and riots sweep across India – their brotherly bond can do nothing to forestall the tragedy that will upend their lives.

Udayan- charismatic and impulsive- finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty. He will give everything, risk all, for what he believes, and in doing so will transform the futures of those dearest to him: his newly married, pregnant wife, his brother and their parents. For all of them, the repercussions of his actions will reverberate across continents and seep through the generations that follow.

For me, this book was at its best in the middle. I got dragged down at the beginning by all of the politics. It was a lot to take in for a short time and I could tell it was important to the plot but that it wasn’t going to be crucial. I was more focused on the relationship between the brothers. From my other Lahiri reading, I knew she was great at describing relationships between people and making you care about her characters. I could see that part of the book coming and, for me, it didn’t come fast enough at the beginning. I also disliked the very end, revisiting Udayan. I saw him as a past part of the book that was no longer the unifying thread of the book. To me, that had become Bela. It could have been cut and given the book a stronger ending.

I thought Subhash and Gauri were great characters. They were strong enough to hold up the book even when I felt Udayan and Bela failed. Subhash was motivated by duty and he felt a duty to serve many people in his life. Gauri wasn’t given a lot of decisions in her life and tried to make the best of situations she disliked and was uncomfortable in. Eventually, it was too much and it’s up to the reader to decide if they agree with her decision or not. I think the ambiguity of it proves that this book was well written.

Subhash was my favorite character. He was reliable when everyone around him was fleeting and unsure. He was a rock in the book that the plot could focus on and the readers could count on to tell the story. Even before you find out how emotionally driven the other characters are, Subhash presents himself as the one to watch, even when he’s a small kid.

There weren’t characters in this book I related to well but I was still able to enjoy it. One of the things I enjoyed was reading about Indian characters and how they felt in America and how American culture was different for them. It helped me learn about what some of my Indian-born coworkers might be going through.

Image via The Telegraph

Bela’s adulthood was really interesting to read about. It seemed like such a drastic change at first, for her to go from the only child of a single father to a nomad but Lahiri built into it well and reinforced the decision as she became a mother herself. I didn’t like the direction of the character at first but I grew to really like Bela’s character toward the end.

Gauri was really hard to like. Visiting her after she’d been in California several years made me angry. I didn’t agree with her decision and what she did to Bela so I was secretly hoping she was unsuccessful and unhappy. Oh well. I actively tried not to be happy for her and her success. I was very bitter.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Sunil Malhotra. He was amazing. I really enjoyed his accents and voices for the various characters and the solemn approach he took to a very serious book. I hope he continues to narrate books by Indian-American or Indian-British writers because I’d love to hear more from him.

I felt the title of this book was just a bit misleading. It refers to a place where Subhash and Udayan would play together in childhood. It takes on a deep significance for them both when they’re adults (trying not to spoil everything!) and the book returns there for its conclusion. However, the majority of the book takes place in Rhode Island. It felt weird to tie the book to a location in India which had only passing appearances in the book. I felt there could have been something else that would have been less miss-leading that Lahiri could have chosen for a title.

The book focused on the relationship and sense of duty shared by Subhash, Gauri, and Udayan and the ways their lives intersected. I loved how I was always thinking about the three of them and all of the ‘what if’ situations through the whole book. It was well tied in and you never forgot the ones that were not present.

Writer’s Takeaway: Lahiri’s not afraid to make her characters suffer. There always seemed to be something going wrong in their lives, yet they’re very resilient. I sickly enjoy the melancholy and the beautiful moments of clarity and happiness that the characters get. It contrasted well.

I liked this book and I’ll read another Lahiri novel if she decides to give another to the world. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri | Cloud & Leaf Bookstore
Book Review: The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri | Queery the Catalog
“The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri | Belper Book Chat

WWW Wednesday, 19-September-2018

19 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Breaking News! I got my hold on Bel Canto by Ann Patchett back! The timing could not be better and I’m ecstatic to get back to reading this book.
I’ve made great progress on The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri during runs. I expect this one two be wrapped up next week. It’s turned into one I’m really enjoying and reminds me what I loved about my previous Lahiri read.
The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl is moving forward well and I’m enjoying the mystery now. It seems like a complete dead end but what better time for something ridiculous to happen!
The plot of A Column of Fire by Ken Follett is building fast and I’m excited to see what ends up happening with these characters. Follett is living up to my expectations so far and I know he will continue to amaze me.

Recently finished: I wrapped up The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar during my lunch last week. It perfectly took me the 30 minutes I allow myself to finish. I felt it ended a bit quick, but if it had kept going, it would have been twice as long. I understand why Umrigar ended it when she did but I wish I knew what happened to these ladies I’ve grown so close to. I wrote up a review and posted it yesterday. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I still plan to pick up The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert next. It’s a short one and I have the audiobook on hold. Maybe I’ll get lucky and have that to follow The Lowland.
I got suckered into another book club. I don’t think I’ll join this one every quarterly meeting, but their next book is one I’ve had on my list and needed a kick in the pants to get to. I’ll be reading Artemis by Andy Weir. After how much I loved The Martian, I have unrealistically high expectations. Let’s see if I’m let down.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 12-September-2018

12 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’ve got to be close to getting Bel Canto by Ann Patchett back! I’m determined that it will line up perfectly with me finishing The World We Found. Determined.
I’m getting really close to finishing The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar and it’s getting really good! I’m running out of warm days to eat outside and read it but I’m still able to enjoy it at lunch. Fingers crossed I wrap this one up soon!
I’ll be running a lot more and focusing on The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. It’s really enjoyable and I’ve gotten past the highly political section and it’s reminding me more of the other Lahiri book I read and adored.
I’ve gotten deeper into The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl and am starting to enjoy it. The style isn’t my favorite, but I’m liking the plot a bit more as it picks up. I’m hoping I can move forward with this one and I don’t need to put it aside for my next book club pick.
I’m still early on with A Column of Fire by Ken Follett and it already feels very different from the first two in this series. Those focused almost exclusively on the town of Kingsbridge but this one is weaving in the royalty of the time in Paris. It’s very different and I’m curious to see how it all comes together.

Recently finished: Nothing new finished this week. I was able to post my review of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas yesterday so go check that out if you get a chance. I gave it 5 out of 5 stars.

Reading Next: My book club’s next pick is The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert. I’m not sure if I’ll do this one as audio or physical yet, TBD based on how finishing my other books is going. I might burn it to a playlist on my phone. It’s either that or putting aside Poe and I’m not sure I want to do that.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 5-September-2018

5 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m still impatiently waiting for Bel Canto by Ann Patchett to come back to me. I’ll have to make a tough call about abandoning my current read for it, but I think it would be worth it. Right?
In the meantime, I’ll try to finish The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar so it won’t be abandoned. It’s a wonderful book but I’ve been enjoying these last warm days by eating outside when I can which means visiting with friends. It’s hard to think of it as a bad thing.
I’ve made some good progress with The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri and I’m enjoying it a lot more now. I’m going to be more focused on running in the coming months as I prepare for a fall half marathon so I should start to work through this one quickly soon.
I’m still early in The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl and it hasn’t quite grabbed me yet. I think it will pick up soon given how the last chapter went but I’m not completely invested just yet.
I started a new audiobook for my car that will stay on this list for quite a while. I decided to pick A Column of Fire by Ken Follett to fulfill the 1500s time period of my When Are You Reading? Challenge. It’s a long one, about 30 hours of audio. I think this will take me well over a month to finish. And that’s if I’m lucky!

Recently finished: I absolutely loved The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. The audiobook was amazingly narrated and the book itself was well written and thought-provoking. I can’t wait to discuss it with my book club. I’m giving this a full Five out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: No plans again this week. I’m not close to finishing any of my current books and I don’t have any book club picks pressing at this time so I’m going to enjoy not knowing what’s going on.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 29-August-2018

29 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I found out that Bel Canto by Ann Patchett is being turned into a movie soon and now I’m even more eager to finish it up. I hope I get the ebook back soon!
I’ve been making a point of moving forward with The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar so I’ll be done when I get my hold on Bel Canto back. I’m enjoying it a lot and I look forward to seeing where Umrigar goes with these characters.
I find myself making up excuses to drive so I can listen to The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I love this book. These characters remind me of myself as a teenager and talk about a lot of fears and concerns I have about racial relations in the US. I’m glad this book is getting so much attention, it’s very deserved.
I’m enjoying The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri but it’s not what I expected. The last novel I read by her was focused on familial relationships and traditions and this one seems very political so far. I think that will lessen a bit, but the beginning had a very political feel to it. We’ll see how this one goes.
I followed my plans and picked up The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl from my shelf. This one has mixed reviews but I’m being optimistic and I’m excited to cross off the 1800s from my reading challenge list.

Recently finished: I finished Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger on Thursday and I absolutely loved it! My review went up Monday, the same day my book club met to discuss the book. Look out for a few more posts about this one and know it comes with a strong recommendation!

Reading Next: No plans at this time. I’m in the middle of a lot of these books. I think I’ll need an audiobook next in my car. I created a list of books that will get me through the rest of my reading challenge but I haven’t decided which of them to start next.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 22-August-2018

22 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Nothing with Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I hope I can get this back soon!
I’m making decent progress in The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar considering it’s an ebook and I move through those so slowly. I bet it’s still another month before I finish, though.
I’m in love with Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. I honestly thought I might have it finished but I’ll say next week now. I might even finish it today!
I adore The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book is so powerful but so approachable and it’s really making me think. It will be great for our book club discussion and I’m excited to see how the movie adaptation comes out.
I’ve moved surprisingly slowly through The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. I haven’t run as much as I normally do and I’m not cooking as much as I’d like, both of which could explain it. I hope to make some more progress soon because I think it’s about to get interesting.

Recently finished: Nothing new. I saw this coming but it’s always hard not to finish something. I did manage to post my review of Dreams of Joy by Lisa See on Monday.  Please stop by and take a look when you can.

Reading Next: I made some plans for finishing up my challenge this year so I think my next book will be The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl. This will give me my 1800s time period and move me one step closer to finishing!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 15-August-2018

15 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Still on hold with Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I’ll have to see about finding this in another format so I can wrap it up soon.
I’ve made slight progress in The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar. I’m reading it slowly during lunches but while the weather is nice, I’m eating outside with my mom a few times a week which takes away at my reading time. I’m enjoying the story and I hope to get back into it soon.
I was able to start Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger and I’m loving it so far. The writing is lyrical and fun and I’m very interested in the focus family!
I’m so fortunate that I’m the first person at the library to get the audiobook copy of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I’ve had my eye on this one for a while and it was recently picked as my book club selection for September and I’m beyond excited to start reading it.
I started a new book on my phone and this time around it’s The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. I read another of Lahiri’s novels a few years ago and adored it so I’m excited to see what else she’s got!

Recently finished: I finished The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan on Thursday. I’m really excited to have finished another book, especially one I was working on for a while. I enjoyed this in both audio and print forms so that I could keep it up while on vacation. My review went up yesterday. I gave it Three out of Five Stars and I’ll be reviewing the movie tomorrow!
I wrapped up Dreams of Joy by Lisa See on Monday. I’ll tell you a secret. I usually write these the Sunday before just to make sure I have it scheduled and I’m usually 99% correct. This week, I was so far off that I had to re-write this Monday night! It changed so fast. I didn’t think I’d finish this one but I powered through because the end was so good. I’ll have a review up next week. I gave it Four out of Five Stars.

My review for The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver went up on Thursday. This was a big winner for me and I gave it Four out of Five Stars.
I also reviewed The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan on Monday. Many of you saw this on my list for weeks and weeks but it’s thankfully wrapped up and I’m so excited to have moved on! I gave the book Two out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’ve just started so many books that I’m really not sure. I think it will be a physical book and I’m leaning toward starting something to help me finish my historical fiction challenge. I’m getting a bit anxious about finishing that. I have the 1500s, 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s to go. I’ve got to start some planning!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Club Reflection: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

15 Dec

To round out my week of ‘The Namesake,’ I’m ready to share our book club discussion of the novel. If you missed the other posts, you can read my opinion on the book and the movie in these links.

Everyone in our group enjoyed this book, which doesn’t happen very often. The last book I remember us all liking was The Light Between Oceans. We tend to have very eclectic tastes.

Lahiri had a very descriptive style. Granted, most authors describe things in detail, but her way of being descriptive of small details and still keeping a relatively high-level narrative was distinct enough that we all noticed and commented on her abilities. I think it’s a real gift of hers.

Lahiri herself was born in England (the reason she was eligible for the Man Booker prize in 2013) though she lived the majority of her life in the US and says she feels American. Like Gogol, she remembers visiting Calcutta during her childhood and learning about her Bengali culture.

I had never heard of Gogol before this book and in truth, I have no interest in reading any of his work. (Fun fact, we have the same birthday!) No one in the group had read any of his work, but some had heard of him before. I like that Lahiri chose a real though not very popular writer for this work. It makes the name mean a lot more and the characters seem even more tangible.

One thing a fellow reader noticed that I’d totally missed was that everything seemed to happen on a train! Ashoke’s accident, Gogol meeting his first girlfriend, Ruth, and him finding out about Moushumi’s affair. All on trains. I guess I would think that this has to do with travel and having a journey toward learning something or discovering something about yourself. But that sounds like high school English teachers reading too far into a book. Or maybe my teacher was right about metaphors.

Gogol’s name seemed to follow him his entire life. he hated his name and wished it wasn’t his and toward the end, seems to wish he had kept it as it connected him to his father. Even after he legally changed his name, the narrative still referred to him as Gogol. We felt that was a reflection of how he viewed himself. Our group suspected he might change his name back after finding out about his father’s accident, but he didn’t seem to have any inclination toward it.

We felt that the name Nikhil was a mask he could wear that helped him blend in with white America. I think having a Russian name was confusing for him because he wanted to have a name that gave him an identity and his name clashed with his ethnic identity and his surroundings. Being Nikhil, he could identify himself as Bengali-American and this gave him confidence. He was confident enough to be Maxine’s boyfriend and leave home for school and work.

One of our discussion questions asked if we think he would have been happier if he were born with a ‘good’ name. We couldn’t say conclusively that he would be happier, but he wouldn’t have worried so much about how others would perceive his name.

We talked about why Ashoke keep his accident a secret from Gogol for so long. I thought he might tell when Gogol wanted to change his name in an attempt to explain why it was so important. We thought it was likely because he wanted to save his children from knowing about his pain. As children, we see our parents as superheroes who are incapable of being hurt. Telling his children too young would have shattered this image for Gogol and Sonia. We did think that betrayal was a bit of an over-reaction on Gogol’s behalf as a result of hearing the story.

Gogol’s life became very ‘anglicized’ and American from a cultural standpoint. He never spoke his parents language and for most of his life, he rejected anything that reminded him of his culture. It seemed that his parents were slightly disappointed in this for a long time and only after the kids grew up were the parents more accepting. Ashima encourages Gogol to make amends with Max at one point and the family is very accepting of Sonia’s non-Bengali husband. After all, Gogol’s ‘perfect’ Indian wedding ended terribly.

Gogol seems to have no luck when it comes to a lasting relationship. He was with Max for a long time, but decided he wanted something more in line with his culture. Then he had Moushumi and she wanted something less in line with her culture and parents. Our group felt that she wasn’t mature enough to be married from the information we have about her and her past with men. There was no mutual ‘finding’ in these characters; they couldn’t find each other at the right times. Gogol has picked the wrong people until the end of the book; nothing’s making him happy.

Mo seemed to seek out her affair, which is one reason our group didn’t think she was mature enough to be in a lasting relationship. At the first signs of her and Gogol disagreeing on something or her feeling restrained by him, she sought out Dimitri; recognizing him by his handwriting. She seemed to have developed this pattern of behavior when she lived in Paris. She didn’t learn how to be in a steady relationship and getting married was no way to figure it out.

One of our questions was how the story would have differed if the people were from less affluent background. We’re not sure the story would have existed in that circumstance. The reason Ashoke came to America is because he had the means to get to the US. The same goes for all the Bengali families, including Moushumi’s. They had the education and money to attend school and be trained for high-paying jobs. Because Gogol enjoyed this lifestyle, he met Max. Without money, the story might have happened in India and that would have been quite a different story altogether.

We were all frustrated with Gogol when he was dating Max and seemingly replaced his family with hers. He was ignoring his mother and father, hiding among Max’s family. He seemed so interested in her family and learning to become a part of it that he didn’t have the energy to devote time to his own family. Many of the people in my group have children of their own and they gave me the great nugget of wisdom that kids don’t realize how much their parents care about them until they have children of their own and can realize how strong the love between parent and child is.

Gogol seemed so disinterested in visiting his family in Calcutta that someone asked if we thought he would take his family to India to see relatives. He was so miserable when they would go visit that we doubted it, but remembered his change of heart after his father died and he was more than willing to go spread his father’s ashes. The sad truth is that Gogol won’t have much family left in India that he knows well and can go back to visit. Most of them have passed away. Ashima lamented this when describing how the party to meet them at the airport grew smaller and smaller each time they’d go back. Even if he wants to go back, there may not be anyone who remembers him well enough to welcome him in.

I really really really loved this book and it was awesome to discuss it with some other bibliophiles who enjoyed it as much! If I can get my hands on a copy of Lahiri’s other novel, I’ll be sure to snatch it up.

ALSO! If you’re interested in joining my on-line book club, please take the time to vote below for our next selection. You can read more about past Read-Alongs here.

 

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 10-December-2014

10 Dec

Time for MizB’s WWW meme yet again! And I’ve finally hit that rush of finishing books I’ve been anticipating for a while. Two this week! TWO!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  My ebook is still The Domesday Book by Connie Willis. And to make my life more awesome, I don’t have it checked out any more. It’s going to be a while before I get to read it again, so this is on hold.
One audiobook on my phone is California by Eden Lepucki and which I’ve put on hold. I need to stop making that a habit! It’s okay and I intend to finish it… soonish.
I’ve begun The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood for a book club and I’m really enjoying it so far! It’s a great dystopian conversation that’s scary and unbelievable yet realistic. Creepy is probably a good way to say it.
I’m activly listening to Paper Towns by John Green checked out as an e-audiobook. I’m not super far into it yet, but I’m hoping to get through it fast as this is now my main audiobook.

Recently finished: I finished Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett on audio yesterday. It. Was. Amazing! I’m so glad I made it through this story though it might be a while before I’m brave enough to pick up the sequel!
I’ve also finished These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner. And with that I’ve finished my own When Are You Reading? Challenge. Yay! Nothing like fulfilling your own standards to pump you up.

I’ve also put up a review of The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri which was amazing and you should all read immediately.

Reading Next:  I’ve got two in the queue now: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. This is for a book club that meets in January so I’m feeling a slow read of this one. The other is for my free-form work book club and we’re reading Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I don’t know how to describe how excited I am about this. One woman finished it in less than a week, which is quick for us! We might be talking about this before Christmas holiday!

School ends on Friday and I plan to drive home and read all evening with a glass of wine to celebrate. How is your WWW? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!