The reader should realize himself that it could not have happened otherwise, and that to give him any other name was quite out of the question
—Nikolai Gogol, “The Overcoat” & epigraph of “The Namesake”
Dear Readers, if you listen to Time to Read regularly you’ll know that I love thinking about names and titles and what they mean. So it is fitting, one could say that it could not have happened otherwise, that this month we will be reading The Namesake by Jumpa Lahiri.
In The Namesake, a couple emigrate from Calcutta to America, eschew cultural tradition and name their firstborn child Gogol after the Russian author of the same name.
Do you need to know your Gogol to read The Namesake? No. But I bet it will be more interesting if you do. I’ve been reading The Overcoat and Other Tales of Good and Evil and have found it surprisingly accessible. I’ve found the collection at different times both dark and funny, and Gogol plays with story structure in surprising ways. But if you only have time for one of Gogol’s short stories I recommend The Overcoat from which the above epigraph is pulled (and if you have time for two I highly recommend The Portrait.)
Please let us know if you have any thoughts about Gogol or The Namesake by going to our website wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca, writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leaving a comment on our Time to Read Facebook group.
Also, don’t forget to check out the new episode which drops today. It features Alexa and Sappfyre who joined from BlackSpaceWPG to discuss Washington Black by Esi Edugyan. A great way to kick off Black History Month!
~Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team