The World We Found
Author: Thrity Umrigar
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Published: Trade paperback edition published July 2012
Source: A complimentary copy was supplied by Harper Perennial and TLC book tours in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. The thoughts expressed here are my own.
As university students in late 1970s Bombay, Armaiti, Laleh, Kavita, and Nishta were inseparable. Spirited and unconventional, they challenged authority and fought for a better world. But over the past thirty years, the quartet has drifted apart, the day-to-day demands of work and family tempering the revolutionary fervor they once shared.
Then comes devastating news: Armaiti, who moved to America, is gravely ill and wants to see the old friends she left behind. For Laleh, reunion is a bittersweet reminder of unfulfilled dreams and unspoken guilt. For Kavita, it is an admission of forbidden passion. For Nishta, it is the promise of freedom from a bitter, fundamentalist husband. And for Armaiti, it is an act of acceptance, of letting go on her own terms.
The World We Found is a dazzling masterwork from the remarkable Thrity Umrigar, offering an unforgettable portrait of modern India while it explores the enduring bonds of friendship and the power of love to change lives.
The World We Found reunites, against much opposition, four women of Indian descent whom time and circumstance have separated and for whom only the most tragic of circumstances will unite. It is the story of forgiveness and love as four friends meet again and the divisions of time and circumstance are whittled away. The world that they fought for in protests has changed, they've changed, lives have been altered in ways that are at first recognizable and yet incredibly different. It is a touching revelation of how what once was can be revisited, friendships renewed, and lives invigorated.
Definitely a worthwhile read, Thrity Umrigar handles what could be touchy issues such as homosexuality, religions, and cultures with care, easing the reader through without offence, making us love her ability to do so while threading the story easily into a fabric that is warm and endearing. Without sugar coating the violence of the Muslim/Hindu war, nor the student uprisings, Umrigar visits the world that was and contrasts it with the world as it has become. The reader is made aware of those situations that helped form each character, and we are allowed to see a glimpse of their very souls, to share in their passions and their fears, and to know them as we would our friends, only better. The World We Found is like a well made quilt, gathered together and assembled with love, piece by piece coming into one, making a whole that represents the lives and loves of her characters, much like the quilts grandma made.
Thrity Umrigar is the author of three other novels—The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet, and Bombay Time—and the memoir First Darling of the Morning. A journalist for 17 years, she is the winner of the Nieman Fellowship to Harvard University and a 2006 finalist for the PEN/Beyond Margins Award. An associate professor of English at Case Western Reserve University, Umrigar lives in Cleveland.