Thrity Umrigar’s newest novel is set to be released tomorrow, but I won an ARC from Goodreads a couple of weeks ago. My first experience with Umrigar has been such a pleasant surprise – so much so, in fact, that I intend to read everything she’s ever written.
Armaiti, Kavita, Laleh, and Nishta become the best of friends during the late 1970s. They all attend college in Bombay (currently Mumbai), India and quickly develop a bond as deep as sisterhood. The four friends are rebels, revolutionaries, political activists, and idealistic believers in the equality of all people – and then they graduate. Armaiti heads to America, Kavita battles loneliness and hidden secrets despite major successes, Laleh struggles to align her ideology to the rich, comfortable life she finds herself in, and Nishta disappears. Thirty years later, Armaiti is diagnosed with a brain tumor and given six months to live. Faced with her past, present, and ever-shrinking future, she once again calls on her three dearest friends in an attempt to make some sense out of the world in which they now find themselves.
I read The World We Found in the course of one 24 hour period which is a rarity for me. Umrigar excels at character development. Very quickly Armaiti, Nishta, Laleh, and Kavita became my own friends – the girls I was so close to once upon a time. They were so very real, honest, and captivating; I cared deeply about what happened to each and every one of them and couldn’t stop turning the pages until a resolution had been obtained. I say resolution, not ending, because I believe one of the ideas Umrigar wants to get across to her readers is that nothing is ever over or complete – that time may pass, but the story can always pick up, change, and dreams can always be fulfilled – even in the face of death.
I was also so pleased to learn so much about India, as I admit to knowing next to nothing. Umrigar does a fantastic job of portraying the class struggles, the religious prejudices, and the beauty of a country that has always seemed so foreign and far away. She manages to show instead of preach – always refreshing. She creates a vivid picture of India – not so much its buildings, monuments, and tangible treasures, but rather the people and culture that live within these physical spaces.
So please go get yourself a copy tomorrow! You’ll love the beautifully drawn female friendships, the armchair travel to India, the pleasant memories of your own past, and a new author that you will want to cherish for many years to come! I’d love to hear what everyone thinks – especially in regards to Nishta’s story!
Next up: The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht – my first read of 2012 and holding steady at 5 stars unless the ending ruins it! Stay tuned to find out!