Jhumpa Lahiri

Topics: The Namesake, India, Jhumpa Lahiri Pages: 17 (4421 words) Published: November 13, 2012

The Criterion: An International Journal in English


The Treatment of Immigrant Experience in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Name Sake D.Ebina Cordelia Assistant Professor in English Holy Cross College,Tiruchirappalli Tamilnadu.

Indian writing in English is one of the voices in which India speaks. It spreads the traditional and cultural heritage of India within India and also introduces it to the whole world. It is Indian in sensibility, thought, feeling and emotion and experience but submits itself to the discipline of English for expression. The contemporary novelists tread new paths and this shows the vitality of Indian fiction. Arun Joshi, Khushwant Singh, Salman Rushdie and Vikram Seth depict the Indian social scene, the partition scene, the theme of alienation and the social, economic and psychological problems of modern man. Writers who are cultural hybrids like Maxine Hongkinstun, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, Bharati Mukherjee, Jhumpa Lahiri and many others take up issues like identity crisis, nationalism, alienation, marginalization, insider – outsider and the hegemonic power discourses in the fiction that they are writing today. Jhumpa Lahiri as an immigrant novelist clearly fits into the school of writers better known as the writers of the ‘Indian Diaspora’. The word ‘diaspora’ has been taken from Greek, meaning “to disperse”. ‘Diaspora’, is the voluntary or forcible movement of peoples from their homelands into new regions…. [Ashcroft, Griffiths, Tiffin] Normally, disapora fiction lingers over alienation, loneliness, homelessness, existential rootlessness, nostalgia, questioning, protest and assertions and the quest for identity; it also addresses issues related to amalgamation or disintegration of cultures, discriminating margins of two different social milieus, internalizing nostalgia and suffering a forced amnesia. We may call it a literary / cultural phenomenon with a distinct melting pot syndrome or that of a salad bowl where the identity of each ingredient is under question. Diaspora is the communities of people living together in one country who “acknowledge that the old country as a nation often buried deep in language, religion, custom or folklore, always has some claim on their loyalty and emotions”.(qtd.in.Kaur, 192) Diasporic experience is a spring of agonized inspiration, multiple identities, new subjectivities, creative memories and fresh perspectives of language and life. The earlier immigrant works of the neo-colonial and post-colonial works were often a product of forced immigration of people running away from religious and other political or social persecution. But several Indians who migrated to America in the mid 1970s and afterwards were in search of a better life, and material success and prosperity.

Vol. II. Issue. IV








December 2011


The Criterion: An International Journal in English


Jhumpa Lahiri was born in 1967 and raised in Rhode Island. She was the daughter of Bengali parents. She was influenced by both Indian and American culture and heritage. This multi-cultural life style plays a central role in many of her stories, which depict the alienation and loneliness of immigrants caught between two drastically different worlds. Her novel, The Namesake focuses on the lives of Indians and Asians who have migrated abroad. Her writings tell us about the adjustment problems of Indians (both first and second generations) who have now settled in America. The tension between adhering to Indian culture and imbibing American culture, between upholding family tradition and subscribing to the individual freedom and realization that one is an outsider even though one is born there is beautifully highlighted in her works. Jhumpa Lahiri portrays immigrant experience and the clash of cultures. The conflicts portrayed in the novel bring great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles...
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