I wasn't expecting to like The Namesake very much. I wasn't crazy about her short story collection Interpreter of Maladies, and the description wasn't particularly enticing. So why did I even read it? Maybe just because Lahiri is a Barnard alumna? Or because I'd saved it in my library account to read list, and it was the only thing I didn't have to go over to Columbia to borrow? Who knows? Regardless, I'm glad I did.
Now...how do I make the plot sound more enticing than the book blurb and reviews I read did? I'm not sure I can. The strength here is in the writing, not the plot. Although you spend some time in various family members' heads, for most of the book the protagonist is Nikhil neé Gogol Ganguli, the son of an arranged marriage between two Bengalis from Calcutta. I honestly don't know what to tell you to make you want to read this book, even though I heartily recommend it. Gogol/Nikhil is not so extraordinary, relatively thoughtful though not perfect on that score, but he's a nice guy--someone you can understand and relate to and respect. The cultural stuff is interesting, but again, what makes this book so good is kind of invisible. Give it a whirl anyway!