Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘The Namesake’ tells story of immigrant family, American-born son
DEARBORN – A public event Aug. 22 will be the launch for the Dearborn Public Library’s third go-round for The Big Read, which will focus on “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri, a story of an immigrant family and their American-born children.
The theme of the latest Big Read is “What’s in a name?” and programming will concentrate on names, family history, and the immigrant experience, with the library inviting people of all ages and backgrounds to join in and share their stories.
Although The Big Read takes place in March and April of 2018, the project launches at 6 p.m. Aug. 22 at Henry Ford Centennial Library, 16301 Michigan Ave. Light refreshments will be served.
That night, Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. will join Library Director Maryanne Bartles and others promoting The Big Read, which encourages communities to select one book for all residents to read, and inspire productive conversations and interactions. At the launch, a call will go out to the community for original family recipes and family immigration stories.
The Library will compile and publish submissions as two anthologies: one showcasing family recipes and the other concerning immigration stories.
“The Namesake” was published in 2003, and quickly became an international bestseller. A popular film version was released in 2006.
A brief introduction to the book from The Big Read website (neabigread.org) reads:
• What’s in a name? For Gogol Ganguli, American-born of Bengali parentage bearing a Russian writer’s surname, this question is neither easily answered nor easily dismissed.
• Straddling two generations, two cultures, and with two first names, Gogol moves through life with a sense he never quite fits in.
• Jhumpa Lahiri’s understated exploration of identity and cultural assimilation in “The Namesake” illuminates for us all the question of “Who am I?” while bringing alive the colors, flavors, and textures of immigrant Indian life in America.
In addition to the call for recipes and stories, the Library also plans to work with CDTV — the city’s public information cable television channel — and Dearborn Public Schools to film people’s immigrant stories in October 2017 and produce a video for the March 18, 2018, launch.
Throughout March and April 2018, there will be many fun-filled events for the community to learn more about the book and its themes, including films, book discussions, a food tasting, dance demonstrations, and other programs for all ages.
To help bring this massive project to life, Dearborn Public Library is partnering with many institutions and organizations — The Henry Ford, Arab American National Museum, Dearborn Community Fund, Dearborn Public Schools, Dearborn Department of Public Information, Artspace, Dearborn Library Foundation, Dearborn Library Commission, Friends of the Library-Dearborn, University of Michigan-Dearborn Mardigian Library, Henry Ford College Eshleman Library, Beaumont Medical Library, East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority, West Dearborn Downtown Development Authority, Green Brain Comics and Dearborn Heights Libraries. The list continues to grow.
Organizations or businesses interested in partnering to help make The Big Read a community-wide experience should contact the library at 313-943-2037.
NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to broaden our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.
Dearborn Public Library is one of 75 not-for-profit organizations to receive a grant to host an NEA Big Read project between September 2017 and June 2018. The NEA presents NEA Big Read in partnership with Arts Midwest.
Dearborn’s first Big Read was “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London in 2013-14 and the second was “Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe” in 2015-16.