Book Review: The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar

The World We Found by Thrity UmrigarI’ve been reading a lot of good books lately, and I’m pretty sure it’s nothing to do with my mood. If anything, I’m a bit of an impatient reader at the moment, as I have a certain number of books I want to finish before the end of the year.

So yes, another great book by Thrity Umrigar. A few years ago I read The Space Between Us, which I also enjoyed a lot. The World We Found is out in January but can be preordered.

The World We Found: What it is about

Armaiti, an Indian woman who moved to the US years ago and is married with a daughter, discovers that she has a brain tumor and not long to live. She invites her old friends to come and visit before she dies. The friends haven’t been in contact with each other for about twenty years. Since they went to university together and were all involved in student protests, these are the people Armaiti would most like to see again.

The three friends, Laleh, Kavita, and Nishta, live in India. The former two are independent women, rich enough to afford the trip. They have some trouble locating Nishta, but find her in a Muslim neighbourhood, in difficult circumstances. Her husband, in his student days a liberal-minded man, turned Muslim fundamentalist after the riots in 1992 in which many Muslims were killed. After the first contact, her husband doesn’t allow Nishta to talk to her friends again, let alone come to the US with them (at their cost).

The book covers Armaiti and her attempt at coping with her illness, and Laleh and Kavita in India, who keep trying to find a way to get their friend to come with them.

The World We Found: What I thought

I loved this book! The writing style is easy, but not lazy. The story is very fluent and satisfying.

Since both Laleh’s and Nishta’s husbands had also been involved with the group of friends at university, Laleh’s husband, Adish, goes to talk to Nishta’s husband Iqbal about the trip (not having seen each other for years) but the difference between them is now so enormous. It was a pity that they didn’t part as friends. In hindsight each of the men didn’t think badly of each other, but they didn’t want to show their real feelings. This rang very true of how people deal with each other.

Select the space below to see a small ***SPOILER***:

What Adish did to Iqbal in the end was terrible and unforgivable. It was a typical case of “Muslim equals terrorist” and it worked a charm. It was probably the only way to stop Iqbal from doing what he was planning to do but even so, I felt very bad about this particular incident.

*** End of Spoiler ***

I thought it was a bit unlikely that the women would be great friends again straight away after 20 years of not having met up. On the other hand, it was heart-warming and I loved how they cared for each other.

As in The Space Between US, Umrigar doesn’t spend too many words explaining what India is like, the customs of the people or what the streets, houses, etc. look like: it’s all “normal” and doesn’t need any explanation. I love that. In this book, the reader is not a visitor to India, looking in from the outside, but is treated just as anyone else and doesn’t get a lot of explanation. Also, sometimes Indian (Hindi?) expressions are used, none of which aren’t translated. This made it all very real and very personal.

A great read! It’s time I chase up the other novels by Umrigar.

Rating: 5/5

I got this book: from the publishers Harper, for review

I read this in: English, the original language

Number of pages: 320

First published: January 2012

Genre: contemporary fiction


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

29 Responses to Book Review: The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar

  1. Joanna says:

    I’d not heard of this book before but I like this kind of story. Thanks! Great review.

  2. Uniflame says:

    Hmmm I wonder if this will be something I will enjoy 🙂 I wait a bit until I go seek it out, because newer books are hard to find in the library, but will keep it in mind 🙂

  3. I’ve just received a proof copy of this book so I’m really pleased to see that you loved it. I hope to dive in over Christmas and I’m really looking forward to it now. 🙂

    • Leeswammes says:

      Oh, that’s nice Jackie. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do. It’s not the most heavy literature, nor is it a chick-lit, but somewhere in between. [?]

  4. Alex says:

    I still plan to read “The Space Between Us” this year. It was part of a 5-book exchange with fellow blogger Bruxelloise Joanna (It’s All About Me Time). I have the feeling I’ll really enjoy it

  5. Niranjana says:

    I’m very fond of Umrigar’s work, and I’m so glad you pointed out that she presents an Indian setting as normal. So many Asian authors inject an explaining note into their prose, and it makes for a very intrusive authorial presence that derails my reading. I am very envious that you got hold of this book so early!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Niranjana, thanks for your comment. I think by not explaining, there was less of a distance between the reader and the story. The story was easy to follow anyway. But I can imagine other stories in India that would need explanation about certain customs or the reader would be wondering the whole time what it was about and why people did this and that. So it does depend on the subject of the story too.

      • Niranjana says:

        Agreed! I think it’s a test of the writer’s skill–to know when to explain, and when to trust the reader’s intelligence to fill in the gaps. And Umrigar is very good at making that call 🙂

  6. Trisha says:

    I’ve heard a lot of great things about Umrigar, but I still haven’t picked up any books…

  7. Nadine Nys says:

    Another new to me author… And one that needs to be put on my TBR-list, I think. Thanks, Judith.

  8. Suzanne says:

    I cannot wait to read this one!

  9. Sandra says:

    I loved both The Weight of Heaven and the Distance Between Us, so I was hoping for another good showing from Umrigar. Glad you liked it, that makes me really look forward to it.

  10. Mystica says:

    This is the only one I haven’t read. I will have to wait for it on my next trip to Melbourne as the book is on order for the library!

  11. I didn’t read beyond your spoiler note since I plan to bring this book on vacation in January… 🙂

    I’m thrilled to discover you loved it! I can’t wait to read it but plan to read slowly, enjoying every word.

  12. Amy says:

    I’m happy you enjoyed this book so much! I’ve only read one of Thrity Umrigars books so far, The Space Between Us, but I loved it and have been anxious to read her other ones. This story sounds compelling and very interesting. I actually am not surprised that after 20 years the women are great friends. I think it’s entirely possible for a friendship to resume where it left off although it depends on many things. But this is an interesting issue and I am happy you feel the author made it realistic.

    This is a wonderful review, Judith!

    Although I will probably read some of the authors other books first, such as The Weight of Heaven, I’m adding this one to my wish list!

  13. JoV says:

    I trust your taste Judith and I am going to read this very soon. I have a feeling I will enjoy it! 🙂

  14. tumrigar says:

    Hi guys (special hi to Leeswammes)–this is thrity umrigar, the author you’ve been discussing in this blog. a big thanks (and a sigh of relief) to Leeswammes for liking the novel. thank you so much for a wonderful, thoughtful review. much appreciated. and thanks to all of you who have read my other work and have expressed an interest in this one. this book feels intensely personal to me, so i’m thrilled that its themes seem to be speaking to readers who have already read it.
    happy holidays and happy reading to all of you.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Thrity, thank you for your lovely comment. I very much enjoyed your latest book, as my review hopefully made clear. I haven’t read all of your books yet, but I surely will now. Happy holidays to you too.

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