formal name, "Nikhil." But she overhears them referring to him as "Gogol" and asks him what he would like to be called. When he answers "Gogol," it sticks. Ashima gives birth to Gogol's little sister, Sonia, in May. In the next years, Ashoke finds out about the deaths of both his parents and Ashima finds out about the death of her mother. They learn about these deaths by phone call. On Gogol's fourteenth birthday, his father comes into his room and gives him his birthday present: The Short Stories of Nikolai Gogol. Gogol is more interested in listening to the Beatles than looking at the book, and he is unable to appreciate it. Ashoke begins to tell Gogol about the train accident that made him appreciate the author Gogol so much, but stops because he realizes Gogol cannot yet understand. Gogol stashes the book away when his father leaves. The next year, the Gangulis decide to go to Calcutta for eight months while Ashoke is up for sabbatical at the university. Gogol begins his junior year of high school in the fall, taking English with Mr. Lawson . Mr. Lawson knows about the Russian author Gogol and assigns the class to read one of his short stories, " The Overcoat ." The summer before he leaves for college at Yale, Gogol goes to probate court and legally changes his name to Nikhil. Gogol goes to Yale and introduces himself as Nikhil; however, it takes a while before he really feels like Nikhil. He begins to date a girl named Ruth, but they grow apart while she is studying abroad at Oxford. The next Thanksgiving, Ashoke tells Gogol about the origin of his name; about the train accident in which he was almost killed. Gogol asks him if he reminds him of that night that he almost died, and his father says no; he reminds him of "everything that followed."
By 1994, Gogol is living in a tiny apartment in New York working as an architect. He begins to date a woman named Maxine Ratliff . Her parents, Lydia and Gerald, are incredibly wealthy, and they interact in a casual but intelligent way that is totally opposite the behavior of Gogol's own parents. He begins spending most of his time at their home rather than at his own apartment,
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