[en] Jhumpa Lahiri ; India ; Indian Literature ; Diaspora ; Diasporic Literature
[en] In The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri narrates the tortuous route from childhood to early adulthood of Gogol Ganguli, a U.S.-born descendant of Indian immigrants whose name bears the stigmas of a Bengali practice of nomenclature curtailed by American law. While Gogol’s fixation on his mismatched name reveals his desperate quest for origin, it also signals his struggle to cope with his broken genealogy and his rerouted filiation. Through Gogol’s predicament, Lahiri indeed points to the paradoxes of identity construction for those among second-generation “desis” who have confused filial and affiliative bonds with their present and their ancestry. In this essay, I will particularly draw on the critical concept of the relation between filiation and affiliation developed by Edward Said in his article “Secular Criticism” so as to demonstrate how affiliation can surreptitiously sustain the quest for a sense of “total” identity through cultural exclusivism. By approaching The Namesake along the general axis of filiation and affiliation, I wish to show how Lahiri uses Gogol’s derailed af/filiations to investigate the stock theme of cultural hybridity while proposing a new understanding of the circuitous logic of inheritance and the obliqueness of identity.
CEREP (Centre d’Enseignement et de Recherche en Etudes Postcoloniales)