Jhumpa Lahiri’s first novel, The Namesake, tells the story of an Indian couple who, joined in an arranged marriage, begin their lives together as new immigrants in America. Their journey begins steeped in the alienation and culture shock that the two encounter as they settle in and begin building a home and family. The novel is ultimately a multigenerational saga, devoting itself first to the young couple, then to their experiences as young parents, their relationship with their American-born children who become teenagers immersed in contemporary culture, and finally the lives of those children as they grow into adulthood themselves.
Lahiri manages to create an engaging narrative which explores the nature of identity both in terms of the ways our cultures shape us and the impact of our names themselves on who we will eventually become. She also captures the ever-present sense of separateness felt by many immigrants with respect to their new countries and children with respect to parents who seem to be from another world—because, in many ways, they are. Her second-generational protagonist, Gogol (arguably the novel’s main character—Lahiri is herself the child of immigrant parents), struggles to build an identity that distances himself from his parents’ world despite having no guarantees of acceptance from the one he is growing up in.
The Namesake, originally published in 2003, was made into a film that was released in 2006. On the one hand, it seemed like a given that Lahiri’s follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning Interpreter of Maladies would receive this treatment, although, as one reviewer pointed out, the book has a pace to it which seems too meandering for the screen (in his words, “Not enough happens. Hardly anything happens”). Additionally, the breadth and complexity of both the themes and characters make a conversion to film a risky proposition. Nonetheless, the film, starring Kal Penn as Gogol and Irrfan Khan and Tabu as his parents, was a critical and commercial success, keeping close to the events of the book and bringing many of its most poignant scenes to life faithfully and with striking, even heart-wrenching emotionality. It must be said, however, that there is a sense of brevity about the film that, particularly when compared with the novel, might leave one feeling it ought to have been several hours longer.
The book The Namesake is available to borrow at E.P. Foster Library, as is Interpreter of Maladies, a collection of short stories. The film is also available through the Ventura County Library system; if it is not at your local branch, you can use the “Request Item” option to have it sent to the branch of your choice. The book review mentioned above, originally published in The Kenyon Review, is available through Literature Resource Center, which can be accessed remotely by Ventura County library card holders through our eLibrary.
Thoughtfully prepared by Ronald Martin.
The OverDrive Digital Bookmobile National Tour will make two stops
at Ventura County Library locations in February 2014:
At these free events, readers learn how to download eBooks from the library through interactive demonstrations and instructional videos.
A gadget gallery — featuring a variety of smartphones, tablets and ereaders will help visitors discover portable devices compatible with Ventura County Library’s OverDrive download service.
Ventura County Library cardholders can also check out and download digital titles anytime, anywhere, by visiting http://vencolibrary.lib.overdrive.com/.
Freegal is our music database. You can download 3 free songs a week and you get to keep them! Do I need to repeat that? 3 free songs a week. And they are good songs! I use several apps to discover new music and I'm always pumped when I find something FREE on Freegal. I just wanted to share what I have been listening to lately courtesy of Ventura County Libraries.
1. Josh Ritter - I like his style. Simple, clear and to the point. I really like the song "Wait for love (You know you will)." He has such a nice voice and his lyrics, while sappy at times, are really sweet.
2. Passion Pit - "Sleepyhead" isn't my typical style, but I dig it. I listen to it while I workout and it just makes me feel like I can conquer the world. Ok, maybe that's extreme but it's a fun listen.
3. The Civil Wars - "Poison and Wine" is deep, beautiful and soothing. I just want to listen with a big glass of wine while reading a book in front of a fire. If you don't know The Civil Wars, you should. They aren't making music anymore, but what they did make is good!
Freegal does have a Droid app and an Apple app. It's so easy: download the app, find the library and type in your library card number. No passwords or log-ins! Let there be rejoicing in the streets of Ventura.
What about you? What have you found on Freegal?
The Governor of California has recently declared a state of drought emergency for the state. Locally, Lake Casitas shows sad evidence of the extended lack of rain.
The first image was taken in April of 2006. The second image was taken this past Saturday, January 19, 2014. You can see the stark difference between the two images. As residents of Ventura, we all need to do our part to conserve water while we are in this emergency. Foster Library can help with materials on water conservation as well as books about native plants.
Resident Photographer Aleta Rodriguez
Two Dudes, One Pan: Maximum Flavor from a Minimalist Kitchen, by Jon Shook, is a great cookbook for those of us that are trying to get the most out of the kitchenware we already own. I made two of the recipes from the book, a chicken dish and a pasta dish, both very tasty and uncomplicated to prepare. The great thing is they both were prepared with just one pan and required very little clean-up. The book provides information for those on a limited budget and short on time to make high-quality food that’s delicious. To be honest, I’ll probably purchase this book for myself. Great job Dudes!
Check out the book at Foster Library, or put a hold on it - we will send it to you!
If there are any cookbooks in Foster Library’s collection that you would like me to try out, please leave the title on our Facebook page and I’ll get cooking.
It's Storytime in Meiners Oaks!
Join Children's Librarian Julie Albright for stories and crafts beginning in February.
The first and third Thursday of each month at 10:30 Julie will delight your little ones
with picture books, fingerplay, songs and fun crafty things.
Jeffrey Brown has done it again. The author of Darth Vader and Son has continued his love of all things Star Wars with Jedi Academy. It’s the story of Roan Novachez, a young boy living on Tatooine, with dreams of attending Pilot Academy Middle School. Instead, he gets an invitation from none other than Yoda himself to attend Jedi Academy. Soon, Roan is millions of miles away on Coruscant, learning how to be a Jedi with other promising students.
Told through journal entries, holomail, and funny observations, Jedi Academy is an amusing and familiar tale of a boy’s first year in middle school. There are class bullies, school sweethearts, and favorite teachers. It has everything you would expect to encounter going through school—except for the Jedi part, of course. Young Roan makes new friends, attends the school dance, takes field trips to other planets, and participates in the science fair, all while learning how to use the Force.
It’s a charming tale that can be enjoyed by all, whether you’re a Star Wars fan or not.
-Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess