Poor Gogol. First he is deprived of a real name because his grandmother’s letter gets lost in the mail, then he is forced to go through life with his “good name” or use name given by his father until the letter arrives. Unfortunately, the letter never arrives, and the grandmother dies. The boy is forced to move through life without a real name. As the first American son of a Bengali family, he straddles two worlds, never fully at home in either one. His periodic months-long visits to Calcutta with his family serve to unbalance him even more. No matter how much he tries, he cannot ground himself either in American or Bengali culture.
Lahiri is a master of exploring the experience of being torn between two worlds, at home in neither.