What the Back Cover Should Read: The Namesake, based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s 2003 book, quietly captures the realities for second-generation immigrants in North America, particularly those of us wedged firmly between South Asian roots and an American upbringing. As Gogol Ganguli (Kal Penn) struggles to form an identity that isn’t at direct odds with his parents’ wishes, he soon comes to realize that the only way he can know himself is to know where he came from. Lahiri’s beautiful tale about the confusion of being caught between two cultures is deftly realized by director Mira Nair.
What the Back Cover Should Read: This story about a group of young boys marooned on a deserted island provides a grim commentary on the very essence of survival, and the dark places people can go when placed squarely out of society’s watchful eye. Peter Brook’s 1963 film is both a comprehensive and loyal companion to Golding’s controversial novel (incidentally, his first!).
Why It’s Worth Checking Out: I was fascinated by Lord of the Flies in high school (don’t ask), and was blown away by the detail afforded to the 1963 film. The barbarity that the boys must either align themselves with or against is rawly captured by Brook, whose characters possess an earnest quality that’s just not present in the 1990 film. (Also: if it’s required reading for English, your best bet is with the 1963 version, which does serious justice to Golding’s story.)