6 Aug 2017

BEST READ - The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

After reading and loving the author-establishing Interpreter of Maladies for my degree, I decided to explore more of Jhumpa Lahiri's writing. The Namesake is her first novel and, just like her debut collection of short stories, is inspired by her Bengali heritage. 

The novel begins with the story of the Ganguli family as they leave behind their life in Calcutta to settle in Massachusetts. When their first son is born, Bengali tradition says Ashima and Ashoke's new baby will be named by Ashima's grandmother, and she will send her choice by post. When no letter arrives, Ashoke settles on Gogol - an ode to the Russian dramatist whose work nursed him through an accident years prior.

Conflicted between his parents' Bengali ideas and traditions and the North-East American world he's growing up in, Gogol Ganguli becomes Nikhil. The story resonates Lahiri's own experiences, teaching otherwise unknowing readers of her own culture and struggles as the daughter of Bengali Indian emigrants. 

Crafted with pleasing language and an unpretentious narrative, The Namesake has deservedly received a plethora of positive reviews and a number of awards. 

UNFINISHED READ - Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

My first encounter with Margaret Atwood was in 2013 when I read The Handmaid's Tale, and have since re-read twice. Atwood's writing was enthralling, and the novel shocked me. The opening book of a three-part series, I intended to feel the same way about Oryx and Crake and its two sequels, yet I gave up 3/4 of the way through only the first novel. 

Surrounded by a post-apocalyptic world, Snowman (previously known as Jimmy) is struggling to survive. He narrates the stories of his life before mankind was consumed by plague, including his infatuation with Oryx, and the death of his best friend Crake. 

For me, the narrative of the life of Oryx (and Snowman's relationship with her) was unusually tragic - it seemed almost ill-fitting. As the novel progresses, the science fiction themes become increasingly prominent, which is maybe what caused me to lose interest. Margaret Atwood's writing is engaging and thought-provoking, but the genre of this book just wasn't for me. 


I've read magazines my entire life, but towards the end of last year I'd fallen out of love with my numerous subscriptions. I wanted to read something inspiring, joyful, and refreshing; then I discovered Oh Comely.

Oh Comely claims to be 'a curious, honest and playful independent magazine'. Each issue is centred around a theme, and it comes together with the submissions of readers all over the country. Their latest issue, 'Touch', is inspired by feeling. It features an interview with Josie Long about our political climate, life models' experiences, and instructions for making origami cranes. It's a bi-monthly magazine that encourages readers to be unapologetic, to create, to learn, to live - and each issue is printed on the back with #onegoodthing to be grateful for. 

Issue 38 is already with subscribers, but will be in shops from August 10th. 

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