Life In Exile

Jhumpa Lahiri's first novel fulfills her promise

You could call Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake (Houghton Mifflin; 291 pages) a multigenerational saga of the immigrant experience, but that makes it sound like a tedious prime-time mini-series instead of what it is: a delicate, moving first novel. It begins in Cambridge, Mass., with the birth of a son to the Gangulis, an Indian couple who recently arrived in America. New England seems a chilly dreamworld to them compared with their native Calcutta. "Ashoke and Ashima live the lives of the extremely aged," Lahiri writes, "those for whom everyone they once knew and loved is lost, those who survive and are...

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