The Namesake, Week 3

Welcome to Week 3 of the Online Book Club discussion of The Namesake

Did you enjoy this section? I think the language and descriptions in this book force me to read slowly and to savor the story. Did you feel that way while you were reading? 

At the very beginning of this section, Gogol legally changes his name. Were you surprised that Gogol had so many thoughts about changing his name? I totally understood his thought that he was overstepping his parents or fixing a mistake they made, even though they gave their permission for him to make the change. Do you think you could change your first name after living with it for over 18 years? I can't imagine how hard it would be to remember the new name. I think I would accidentally use the wrong signature all the time. 

In this section, Gogol has several different relationships. First, he falls in love with Ruth, a girl he meets on the train. He doesn't really introduce her to his family, and their relationship does not survive her studying abroad. Then, Gogol falls in love with Maxine. He definitely becomes completely entrenched in her family. I thought it was incredibly interesting that he fell into her family routine so quickly. Gogol introduces Maxine to his family, and it seems like they accept her, but everything changes for Gogol once his father dies. At the end of this section, he reunites with Moushumi, and they get serious really quickly. Do you think their relationship moves so quickly because they have so many shared experiences and such similar backgrounds? I was surprised that Gogol agreed to meet with her since the whole meeting was suggested by his mother, but I was glad he did. He seems really happy with Moushumi. 

Were you glad that Ashoke finally told Gogol about the origins of his name? I wish he had told Gogol that story when Gogol was younger. I think it would have helped Gogol feel more connected to his family. Originally, when Gogol finds out about the accident, he worries that the name reminds his father of all the bad things that happened during the accident. But, his father assures him that the name reminds him of all of the good that came after the accident. I thought that was really sweet. Do you think you could name a child after a traumatic incident you experienced? 

The chapter in which Ashoke died was pretty heartbreaking. It was so sad that he died so far from home, and it was really heartbreaking that Ashima had to learn about his death over the phone. But, I think the hardest parts for me to read were the descriptions of Gogol alone in his father's apartment. It was just hard to see that his father was in such a temporary space, and I felt like all of his lack of possessions showed that he missed his family. He was so alone when he started to feel bad, and he died so far from everyone. Those pages were so hard to read. 

Did Ashima seem like a pitiful character in this section? She seemed like a husk of herself when she had to start living alone. Did you feel like she was really fragile once Ashoke died? 

This section ends with Gogol's new relationship with Moushumi. Do you like them together? Do you think his relationship with her is better that the relationships he had earlier in the book? My favorite detail about their early relationship was the fact that Gogol went back to the store to get her that  really expensive hat. Didn't you think that showed that Gogol was committed to their relationship really quickly? Do you think he would have agreed to meet with Moushumi if his father hadn't died? I think Ashoke's death made Gogol more receptive to his family and his heritage. 

Are you thinking about watching the movie version starring Kal Penn? If you're on the fence about watching, check out this article in which Kal Penn explains that he campaigned hard to be in the movie. And, check out this short clip in which the director talks about casting Kal Penn. Finally check out the clip below to hear more about the making of the movie. 

Did I leave out anything that you really enjoyed in this section? I hope you're enjoying the story--make sure to leave me a comment to let me know how your reading experience is going. Try to finish the book before joining us next week!