Friday, January 20, 2012

THE WORLD WE FOUND by Thrity Umrigar

    Rich with insight, heart, and warmth Thrity Umrigar’s fifth novel brings us the story of four college women who were the closest of friends in 1970s Bombay.  Believers in Communism, they shared their deepest secrets, participation in demonstrations, and hopes for a better India.  Decades pass and their lives have changed radically with idealistic dreams giving way to reality.  For the most part they have lost touch with one another.

    Armaiti is the only one who has left India - she came to the United States, married an American, and gave birth to a daughter, Diane, who attends Harvard.  According to her mother Diane is typically American, a girl with nothing of Armaiti’s “spice and vinegar.”  However, those qualities will soon be lost as Armaiti has been given six months to live and her last wish is to see her three friends again, to be together one more time.

    Laleh is married to a rich Indian businessman and wants to get the trio to Armaiti as soon as possible.  Kavita who once had feelings for Armaiti is now an acclaimed architect and in love with a German colleague.  Neither has the faintest idea of where to find the fourth friend, Nishta.  They’re shocked to finally locate her in a dingy apartment in a poor section of Bombay.  She did marry the Muslim boy she loved in college, Iqbal, but he has changed.  After the Hindu-Muslim riots he became a devout fundamentalist, forcing Nishta to take an Islamic name, wear a
Burqa, and care for his mother who makes no secret of her dislike for the woman he chose as a wife.  He will never allow Nishta to go to America even to visit a dying friend.

    The action shifts between India and the U.S. as each is preparing for the reunion in her own way.  While doing so they remember the past, difficult times, happy times, hopes, promises, seeing all of that through the prism of the present.

    The World We Found is a beautifully penned enthralling novel allowing us to share the joys and sorrows experienced by two women but also by India itself.

    - Gail Cooke

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