Book Review: The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar
November 24, 2011 29 Comments
I’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.
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