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February 24, 2018

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Library News Release

Release Date: 03/01/2007

"Seattle Reads 'The Namesake'" gets everyone reading and talking about Jhumpa Lahiri's novel

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The Broadway Performance Hall, where Jhumpa Lahiri will appear at noon Tuesday, May 15, is located at 1625 Broadway (corner of Broadway and Pine).


In 1998, The Seattle Public Library launched a program to get Seattleites reading and discussing the same book. "If All of Seattle Read the Same Book" is now an annual event and has been widely emulated in cities, states and countries around the world.


In this ninth year of the series - now called "Seattle Reads" - The Seattle Public Library has selected "The Namesake" (Mariner Books, 2003) by Jhumpa Lahiri. Lahiri will visit Seattle May 14-15, to talk with readers about her critically acclaimed first novel.


"The Namesake" was published in 2003, and was named a best book of the year by the New York Times, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, and Newsday. The novel illuminates Lahiri's signature themes, first explored in her Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of short stories, "Interpreter of Maladies": the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the tangled ties between generations.


"The Namesake" has been made into a feature film, directed by Mira Nair, opening in theaters in March 2007.


Lahiri's public appearances are free and open to the public. The times, dates, and locations of her Seattle appearances are outlined below. Tickets and reservations are not required. Doors open 30 minutes before the program begins. For programs at the Central Library, parking in the Central Library garage will be available for a $5 special event rate.


Program brochures with the complete schedule of events will be available at all locations of The Seattle Public Library in March.


Meet Jhumpa Lahiri
Members of the public are invited to meet Lahiri to discuss "The Namesake" and "Interpreter of Maladies," her Pulitzer Prize-winning debut story collection.

  • 7 p.m. Monday, May 14, Museum of History & Industry, 2700 24th Ave. E.
  • Noon Tuesday, May 15, Seattle Central Community College, Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway


A Conversation Between Jhumpa Lahiri and Nancy Pearl
Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl, former director of the Washington Center for the Book, bestselling author, and regular commentator on National Public Radio and KUOW, will interview Lahiri on stage.

  • 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, Town Hall at Eighth and Seneca


Books will be available for purchase and signing at all events, courtesy of The Elliott Bay Book Company.


Book Groups at The Seattle Public Library
Copies of "The Namesake" and "Interpreter of Maladies" are now available for Seattle book discussion groups. Contact or send your request to the Washington Center for the Book at The Seattle Public Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Seattle, WA 98104, for more information. Free reading group toolboxes (reader's guides) for Lahiri's works will be available in all locations of The Seattle Public Library and several local bookstores in March.

The Central Library and several branch libraries will host book group discussions of Lahiri's works. Books and reading group toolboxes are available at the hosting library. Everyone is welcome. For more information, visit the Library's Web site: or call Quick Information at 206-386-4636.


Other Seattle Public Library Events
The Seattle Public Library will present a series of programs, panel discussions, and films prior to Lahiri's Seattle visit.


Community Organizations Dialogue on "The Namesake"

  • 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, Central Library, Microsoft Auditorium
  • 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, Green Lake Branch, 7364 East Green Lake Dr. N.
  • 3 p.m. Sunday, May 6, Capitol Hill Branch, 425 Harvard Ave. E.


How does "The Namesake" ask readers to imagine immigration and intimacy? Join Chaya, Tasveer, and Trikone, local South Asian groups redefining their experiences of family, sexuality, and visibility as they respond to the novel.

Panelists will also address the question of how successfully the recently released film, 'The Namesake,' directed by Mira Nair, visualizes the story of immigration and identity.


Anjali Banerjee presents: An author's journey, from India to the Pacific Northwest

  • 11 a.m. Saturday, March 31, Central Library, Microsoft Auditorium
    Meet the author of "Maya Running" and "Looking for Bapu," acclaimed books for young readers. Recommended for families with children ages 10 and up.


Thrilling Tales: A story time for adults: "The Nose" by Gogol

  • Noon Monday, April 2, Central Library, Microsoft Auditorium
    Come hear a reading of "The Nose" by Nikolai Gogol, the Russian writer for whom the Gangulis name their son. Brown bag lunches are welcome.


Writing India in the Pacific Northwest

  • 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, Central Library, Microsoft Auditorium
    Join us for a discussion with local South Asian novelists Bharti Kirchner ("Pastries," "Darjeeling," "Shiva Dancing") and Indu Sundaresan ("The Splendor of Silence," "The Feast of Roses," "The Twentieth Wife").


South Asian film series

  • "American Chai": a film by Anurag Mehta (MPAA rating: R)
    1 p.m. Sunday, April 15, Ballard Branch, 5614 22nd Ave. NW
  • "Bend It Like Beckham": a film by Gurinder Chada (MPAA rating: PG-13)
    7 p.m. Monday, April 23, Green Lake Branch, 7364 East Green Lake Dr. N
  • "Mississippi Masala": a film by Mira Nair (MPAA rating: R)
    7 p.m. Thursday, April 26, Capitol Hill Branch, 425 Harvard Ave. E


Seattle Theatre Group Education and Community Programs presents:
From Bharatha Natyam to Bhangra: A lecture/demonstration in ancient traditional and popular Indian folk dances

  • 2 p.m. Saturday, May 5, Central Library, Microsoft Auditorium


Young dancers from Kalalaya School for the Performing Arts (Bothell) and the Apna Bhangra Crew (Renton, Kent) will perform the ancient, spiritual dance form, Bharatha Natyam, and popular Bhangra folk dances of North India and Pakistan. Performances will include a discussion of the cultural significance of each form.


The Seattle Public Library and The Elliott Bay Book Co. present South Asian authors

  • Mira Kamdar: "Planet India: How the Fastest Growing Democracy Is Transforming America and the World." 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 2, The Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St.,
  • Atul Gawande: "Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance." 7 p.m. Thursday, May 3, Central Library, Microsoft Auditorium
  • Anosh Irani: "The Song of Kahunsha." 7 p.m. Thursday, June 21, Central Library, Microsoft Auditorium
  • Thrity Umrigar: "If Today Be Sweet." 2 p.m. Sunday, July 8, Central Library, Microsoft Auditorium


For more information on these events, visit the Library's Web site: or call Quick Information at (206) 386-4636.


"The Namesake" takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of an arranged marriage, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Ashoke does his best to adapt while his wife pines for home. When their son, Gogol, is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world.


Named for a Russian writer in memory of a catastrophe years before, and left with his pet name rather than a proper Bengali first name, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd name. He stumbles along the second generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs.


Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London in 1967, the daughter of Bengali parents who emigrated from India. She was raised in Rhode Island. Lahiri learned about her Bengali heritage at an early age, traveling regularly to Kolkata (Calcutta), spending considerable time with her extended family.


Lahiri is a graduate of Barnard College, where she received a bachelor's degree in English literature, and of Boston University, where she received a master's degree in English, creative writing, and comparative literature and the arts, and a doctorate in Renaissance studies. Lahiri lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.


Lahiri's debut collection of stories, "Interpreter of Maladies," was published in 1999. Among its numerous awards were the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the PEN/Hemingway Award, and The New Yorker Best Debut of the Year Award. It was translated into 29 languages and became an international bestseller. The New Yorker named Lahiri one of the 20 best young writers in America.


"Seattle Reads The Namesake" is presented by the Washington Center for the Book at The Seattle Public Library, the literary and humanities programming arm of the Library. It is an annual project to foster reading and discussion of works by authors of diverse cultures and ethnicities, made possible by The Seattle Public Library Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, and National Endowment for the Humanities, with additional support from KUOW 94.9 Public Radio, Houghton Mifflin Co., Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington, Seattle Theatre Group, and the Alexis Hotel.

For more information contact:


Linda Johns, Coordinator for Washington Center for the Book

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