This novel revolves around the Ganguli family with the opening scene of a hospital in Massachusetts, where Ashima Ganguli is about to give birth to a baby. The husband Ashoke Ganguli names the baby Gogol in honor of the famous Ukranian author Nikolai Gogol. He had a deep relation with the name as he had been reading a short story collection by Gogol just before his accident, many years back.
The Ganguli couple names their son as Nikhil in school but he wanted to be called Gogol. But by the time he turned 14, he started hating his name. Before leaving for college, he changed his name to Nikhil Gogol Ganguli. He went to Yale for further studies and adopted the American culture.
While taking a train home for summers, the train was suddenly stopped as a man had jumped in front of the train and committed suicide. Ashoke becomes very concerned and he then tells him about the significance of his name. Gogol is troubled and starts regretting his decision of changing his name.
After graduating, he gets a job in NYC and moves in with a girl Maxine. Gogol introduces her to his parents. Shortly after the meeting, Ashoke dies of a heart attack in Ohio. Eventually, Gogol withdraws from Maxine and breaks up with her.
Ashima suggests him to meet Maushmi, one of his childhood friends, who has just broken up from her wedding. Gogol is reluctant but somehow agrees. They both are attracted to each other and get married. But Maushmi feels tied up and regrets her marriage. She has an extra marital relationship with Dimitri. When Gogol comes to know of it, he leaves her.
He finally comes to accept his name and picks up a collection of the Russian author’s stories that his father had gifted him many years back.