The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads: Thrity Umrigar, acclaimed author of The Space Between Us and The Weight of Heaven, returns with a breathtaking new novel—a skillfully wrought, emotionally resonant story of four women and the indelible friendship they share. Fans of Jennifer Haigh’s Faith, Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies, and Katrina Kittle’s The Kindness of Strangers will be captivated by Umrigar’s The World We Found—a moving story of bottled secrets, unfulfilled dreams, and the acceptance that can still lead to redemption, from a writer whom the New York Times calls “perceptive and often piercing.”
My take: The novel takes place in modern day India and United States. One of four friends (the one in the U.S.) is dying of brain cancer and wants the other three to visit her. They were close in college, bound together in a common cause - to bring forth a New India. They were politically active socialists who pled for equality for all citizens. They were in marches where the police beat them and they were hospitalized or arrested. They had ideas and dreams of the way the world should be.
Fast forward nearly 30 years and the women are all middle age and living different lives. Through their eyes we see the world they found. One woman married an American and is dying of cancer in suburbia, a mother to one daughter and divorced from her American husband. I loved being inside her head. Another married a man from their group of political activists. He's Parsi and well-to-do. She still carries her political torch. Another woman is still single and a successful architect. She is also a closeted lesbian. The last woman is Nishta, the lost one who married another from their college group who was also a Muslim. She now lives a troubled life, both internally and externally.
Although not discussed in great detail, the author provides a little background in that the Muslims and Hindus are constantly at odds because the politicians use them as pawns, turning them against one another in order to win votes.
The story itself is not exciting. What is striking is the author's voice and the way she articulates universal feelings and doubts. It is truly beautifully written and articulated.