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Summer Reading: English Required Summer Reading

9th Grade

10th Grade

Some Tips for Reading The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri (published in 2003)

Setting: Boston, late 1960s through 1990s

Main characters:

  • Gogol Ganguli, born in 1968, in the USA; the first child of Ashoke and Ashima
  • Sonia, Gogol’s younger sister
  • Ashoke Ganguli, Gogol’s father, a professor of engineering; born in Calcutta, India
  • Ashima Ganguli, Gogol’s mother, also born in Calcutta, India

The novel’s principal conflict: Gogol lives in two cultures—American and Indian—that have conflicting expectations about how an individual cultivates an identity. More specifically, while Gogol wants to meet his parents’ expectations, he also wants to belong to the American culture he lives in. As you read, consider how Gogol’s allegiance to one culture or the other mirrors his developmental stage.

Some other themes to consider:

  • father-son relationships
  • journey
  • education
  • career
  • marriage
  • gender equality

The name Gogol has two distinct meanings in the novel: one, it is the last name of a famous Russian author, Nikolai Gogol; two, it is a pet name intended to be used only by Gogol’s family. Gogol’s formal name is Nikhil. The confusion that results from having two first names illustrates the identity crisis not uncommon among children born to first-generation immigrants.

Women are attracted to Gogol. As you read, keep an eye out for Kim, Ruth, Maxine, and Moushumi.

You are encouraged to mark your book because you’ll write about the novel when school begins. Mark passages relevant to character development, theme, and significant details concerning plot, names, places, etc.

11th Grade

Creative Writing

Literary Monsters

Irish Literature

Creative Nonfiction: Choose ONE

Global Literature: Choose ONE

Genre Literature: Choose ONE