To be or not to be...

A candid chat with Jhumpa Lahiri, author of the award-winning novel The Namesake.
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Updated on Mar 23, 2007 06:43 PM IST
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The Namesake

deals with Indian immigrants in the United States as well as their children. What, in your opinion, distinguishes the experiences of the former from the latter?

In a sense, very little. The question of identity is always a difficult one, but especially so for those who are culturally displaced, as immigrants are, or those who grow up in two worlds simultaneously, as is the case of their children.

What were the conflicts you felt growing up as the child of immigrants?

It was always a question of allegiance of choice. I wanted to please my parents. I also wanted to meet the expectations of my American peers. I felt that I led two very separate lives.

Did you feel as rebellious as the character Gogol does early in the film?

Neither Gogo1nor I were terribly rebellious, really. I suppose I, like Gogol, had my moments. But even ordinary things felt like a rebellion from my upbringing - what I ate, whom I befriended. Things my American friends' parents wouldn't think to remark upon were always remarked upon by mine.

You write frequently from the male point of view. Why?

I think it was mainly curiosity I have no brothers, and men generally seemed like mysterious creatures to me. It's a challenge, as well. I always have to ask myself, would a man think this or do this?

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