Jhumpa Lahiri writes about Bengali immigrants and their American offspring. It is a recurring theme in all her books and short stories. The children grow, and slowly get assimilated into the American society, but somehow the older generation gets left behind. The younger people can not relate to them and there is a communication gap.
This is a story about Gogol Ganguli, the “American Born Confused Desi” (Desi means Native in Indian vernacular) and his coming of age. Ashok Ganguli and his wife Asima are Bengalis from Calcutta who are first generation immigrants living in New England. They have a son who is named Gogol after a Russian writer. The reasons are complex. Ashok had been reading a book by Nikolai Gogol on a train when it derailed, killing everyone sleeping around him. He survives and credits the Russian author with saving his life. The son hates his name, as he complains, ‘that it is neither Indian nor American but of all things Russian.” Plus – and the issue dogs him for years – he cannot imagine saying, ‘Hi, it’s Gogol’ under potentially romantic circumstances.’