Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘The Namesake’ recommended by Idaho school district to be removed from reading list

The novel was Lahiri’s first foray into long fiction.

By Raif Karerat

Jumpha lahiri
Jhumpa Lahiri (Courtesy of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Facebook profile)

An ad-hoc literature committee assembled by the Coeur d’Alene School District in Idaho has recommended removing Indian American author Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel, “The Namesake,” from a list of books approved for the county’s high school curriculum.

According to the Coeur d’Alene Press, the same committee voted last year to remove John Steinbeck’s novella, “Of Mice and Men,” from a list of books teachers may assign to high school freshmen, garnering national media attention.

The committee’s recommendation has initiated a 30-day review period during which the school board will solicit public input on whether it should remove the book from a reading list. During the review period, students, educators, parents, and members of the public are able to weigh in on whether the book — which contains references to recreational drug use — is appropriate for high school-aged students.

“I think input from the committee gives the board an idea as to what the community threshold is for appropriate literature,” Coeur d’Alene School Board Chair Christa Hazel told The Press.

“The Namesake” was Lahiri’s first foray into full-length publishing. Released in 2004, it was originally a novella published in the New Yorker and later expanded to become a fleshed out novel.

The story describes the trials and tribulations of a Bengali couple who immigrate to the United States to form a life drastically different than everything they are accustomed to.

“The Namesake” also made its way to the silver screen in 2006 with a film starring Kal Penn and Bollywood actress Tabu.


  1. David Pallian

    I am always amazed at such reactions to literature in our public school systems. I have read all of Lahiri’s books, and I can’t imagine what it is that created that response. I remember reading “A Wrinkle in Time” as an adult shortly after meeting Madeleine L’Engle, and soon thereafter hearing that it had been banned along with many other books by a southern New Hampshire School and wondering if we had read the same book. Why would there be a need to ban any book, ever …..and if the goal is to keep a book from being read, attempting to prevent people from reading it is almost surely going to have the opposite result.

  2. Kathryn Parmeter

    Can you imagine what Sherman Alexie is going to say about this ad hoc committee. I can’t wait.

  3. Fantastic story-telling by Jhumpa Lahiri in this book. The Yanks are crazy, loony-toons!

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