Coconut Generation

The Next Generation of Asian Indians

Namesake – second generation issues March 8, 2007

Filed under: Culture,Family,India,Youth — Sam George @ 3:18 pm

One of the acclaimed novels that portrayed the struggles of children of Indian immigrants in America is Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake. Now it has been made into a film. Credit goes to Mira Nair (of Mansoon Wedding and Salaam Bombay fame) and Fox Cinema. It opens in theatres everywhere on March 9. See a brief review and interview with Mira Nair on Newsweek.

It is a story of Bengali immigrant family from Calcutta (Gangulis) and their American born son (Gogol). It beautifully paints  the struggles of second generation Indian Americans, their search of identity, being torn between two worlds, generational conflicts, difffering views, expectations and perceptions. He rejects his name given by parents (linking him to the past) and dates a American girl symbolic of his rejection of everything Indian and embracing everything American. Yet his past (Bengali roots) and future (American life) seems to strangely intersect. He could not shrug off either. It is a story of a Coconut who is in search of his American identity without loosing his Indian heritage.

I really enjoyed the novel and looking forward to seeing the movie soon. Also possibly use it in my teaching on ministry to the Coconut Generation. I hope more youth leaders will critically review such writings/productions and appropirately use products of popular culture to broach into deeper realities of ministry to the children of immigrants.

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One Response to “Namesake – second generation issues”

  1. Dasichist Says:

    “He rejects his name given by parents (linking him to the past) and dates a American girl symbolic of his rejection of everything Indian and embracing everything American. ”

    I take issue with Indians not born in India refering to Caucasian people as “Americans” Is there a problem with calling a white person white? When describing a person of Indian descent who is born in America, they are “American” also. We would describe this person as South Asian American, Indian American, etc. This should be made clear in your writing.


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