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The Namesake

The Namesake


by Jhumpa Lahiri

Ashoke Ganguli Timeline and Summary

  • On October 20, 1961, Ashoke was in a train accident between Calcutta and Jamshedpur. Thank goodness he was reading a book by Gogol, because when the rescuers saw a page from the book, they were able to pull him out of the wreckage. He spends a whole year recovering from his injuries.
  • The next year, he leaves for a graduate program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This is one smart dude.
  • In 1967, he marries Ashima and they move to Cambridge, Massachusetts together.
  • Then, in 1968, he welcomes his new son into the world and names him Gogol.
  • Three years later, the Gangulis move to a university town outside Boston, where they continue to live for many years to come. They have another kid, a daughter named Sonali, in 1974.
  • In honor of the book that saved his life, Ashoke gives The Short Stories of Nikolai Gogol for his fourteenth birthday.
  • When he takes a sabbatical a year later, the whole family goes on an eight-month trip to India. During Gogol's senior year in college, Ashoke picks up Gogol at the train station on Thanksgiving, tells Gogol the story of his train accident, finally coming clean about the reason he gave his son such an odd name.
  • In August 1994, Ashoke has lunch with Gogol for the last time. A few months later, he takes off for Ohio to complete a research fellowship. And in December, just a few weeks before Christmas, he has a heart attack and dies, leaving behind his mourning family.