Friday, March 16, 2012

Book Review: The World We Found

Title: The World We Found
Author: Thrity Umrigar
ISBN: 978-0-06-193834-4
Pages: 305
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year: 2012
Genre: Multicultural, Drama, Indian

Review: I have read almost all of Umrigar’s books, and loved them all. This is her latest book that came out recently, in January 2012. And being a big fan of Umrigar’s work, I knew I had to read it. She is one author who can simply reach into me and twist my gut and make me feel as if I have been through a cloth-wrencher (if there is something like that, but that is the only way to describe how I feel). The only way I can put this is that she gets pain. And she knows how to pen it down so that pain leaps up from the written page and gets deep inside your soul and erupts there. Her books leave me thoughtful, pensive, sad. I only wish I could write like that one day.

She writes about four women, Armaiti, Nishta, Kamala and Laleh, who were incredibly close friends in college. Life takes them into different paths and ways, and they all but lose contact with each other. Armaiti goes to the US for graduate studies and stays there, Kamala becomes one of Mumbai’s top architects (and is a closet gay), Laleh marries well and Nishta- well, Nishta is where the book centers. Nishta is the change when a girl becomes a resigned woman. Nishta is the slow resentment that comes from giving up bits and pieces of yourself over time. Nishta is the triumph of indifference over spirit. And yet, in the end, Nishta is hope. Nishta is resurrected?

The book begins with Armaiti finding out that she has only a few months left to live. And she wants to meet her friends from college before the end. The book traverses this journey, of how her friends get together and get ready to go. It goes through the stories and histories of each of these women, their lives, their families. How their pasts were gradually eradicated by a merciless present. How life, culture, society and religion changed them.

The center plot of the story is about Nishta, whose husband does not allow her to go to the US to visit Armaiti. The other two women do not give up and somehow make it happen. The scheming, the plotting, the constant terror of him finding out is played out superbly. A beautiful description of how a spirited and feisty young woman is now a resigned, scared, broken housewife. In the end, how she manages the courage to escape. For the bonds are of love and a lifetime together. Yet, they are bonds that hold her down and stifle her.

Armaiti’s gradual degeneration, Nishta’s struggles, Laleh’s obstinacy, Kavita’s bitterness- all combine to form a tapestry of intense emotion. Emotion that will take your heart hostage and make you sob for them. Make you realize that life is not black and white, just unfair. Just horribly unfair and painful. Because bad things happen, and we are colored by them. Our reactions are results of what happens to us. How things change, how dreams change, how people change. How the world we find is the world we create.


bins said...

Bought this book because of your review and it is definitely a really good read.

Rachna said...

Thanks Bindi, glad you liked the book. Try her other books too, they are all awesome!