The basics: The World We Found is Thrity Umrigar's fifth novel. It's the story of four best friends, Nishta, Laleh, Kavita and Armaiti, who went to college together in Bombay in the late 1970's. Armaiti left for graduate school in the U.S., but when she is diagnosed with a brain tumor, her one wish is for her three friends to make the journey to visit her in the U.S.
My thoughts: The characters in this novel grabbed my attention immediately. Despite introducing so many characters in the first few pages, I never struggled to differentiate among them. The four women and their friendship are the crux of this novel, and I appreciated that Umrigar told the story in the present day while offering glimpses of the past. This novel also offers an impressive breadth of Indian history, from the demonstrations of liberal college students in the late 1970's to the Hindu/Muslim riots of the early 1990's to the state of religious attitudes today. While these issues play a strong role in the novel, they are not its focus. It's a novel of friendship, and these events impacted these women and their friendship, but the novel itself is not political.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for me in this novel was how the supporting characters shined. Each woman had at least one supporting character who was remarkably well developed and three-dimensional. The scope of characters in this novel is impressive, and I so enjoyed the time I spent with all of these characters.
Favorite passage: "What she had believed was indignation or rage or a deep intolerance for injustice came down to this: she was irreducibly in love with this bewitching planet, this thrilling life, this heartbreaking species she belonged to, with its capacity for stupefying destruction and breathtaking magnanimity."
The verdict: The World We Found is a glimpse into modern day life in India through the lives of four women who were best friends in college. It's a novel of friendship and the things that both impact it and those that cannot dampen it.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 306 pages
Publication date: January 3, 2012
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