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The World We Found, by Thrity Umrigar.

July 28, 2016

The World We Found, by Thrity Umrigar.

4 stars

Another fine novel from a favorite author of mine about four women from Bombay and their adaptations to the worlds in which they lived years after their college friendships.

Thrity Umrigar grew up in Bombay, as Mumbai was called.  She came to the United States to study and to work as a journalist.  Eventually she become a popular novelist writing often about people from India.  She is at her best when she explores the obstacles and experiences that prevent us from understanding each other.

In The World We Found, Umrigar again teases out the complexity of the relations that develop between individuals over time.  Here she focuses on four women who had been close friends in college in the 1970s, demonstrating for the social changes they supported.  But after college they have drifted apart and adapted to differing conditions.  Armaiti  had gone to America to study and marry.  When she becomes ill, she asks her three friends still in India to be reunited with her.  Her request leads the others to examine their own lives, past and present.  Laleh had married Adish, the man she knew in college.  On the surface their life is happy and successful, but her old guilt and uncertainty remain.  Kavita has become a very successful architect, but she has continued to hide her love for another woman.  Nishta also married a man she dated in college, Iqbol, but the fact he is a Muslim and she a Hindu has led to a painful situation.   Conflicts emerge as each woman, and the men they married, try to reconcile the idealism of their college years with the reality of their later lives.

As always, Umrigar has created unique characters and a fast-moving, interwoven plot.  The most prominent story is that of Nishta.  She and Iqbol had been daring in their decision to marry across religious divisions, but the violence against Muslims in the 1990s, deeply affected Iqbol.  He became strident in his attempt to protect and control the women in his family, leaving Nishta alone and unhappy.  His conversation with Adish displays how religious divides emerge between former friends.

I recommend The World We Found as a well-written and insightful novel.

I also recommend the other of Umrigar’s books that I have read and reviewed.

The Space Between Us.

Today Be Sweet.

The Weight of Heaven.

The Story Hour.

First Darling of the Morning.  Her memoir of growing up in Mumbai.

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