Ever since taking a post-colonial literature class in college, I have been obssessed with Indian literature (both literature about India and literature by Indian authors). My favorites include Salman Rushdie, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Jhumpa Lahiri, Rohinton Mistry and Thrity Umrigar. I've read most of Umrigar's novels and loved them all, so I didn't hesitate to pre-order her latest, The World We Found.
The synopsis from the Amazon page: "As university students in late 1970s Bombay, Armaiti, Laleh, Kavita, and Nishta were inseparable. Spirited and unconventional, they challenged authority and fought for a better world. But much has changed over the past thirty years. Following different paths, the quartet drifted apart, the day-to-day demands of work and family tempering the revolutionary fervor they once shared.
Then comes devastating news: Armaiti, who moved to America, is gravely ill and wants to see the old friends she left behind. For Laleh, reunion is a bittersweet reminder of unfulfilled dreams and unspoken guilt. For Kavita, it is an admission of forbidden passion. For Nishta, it is the promise of freedom from a bitter fundamentalist husband. And for Armaiti, it is an act of acceptance, of letting go on her own terms even if her ex-husband and daughter do not understand her choices.
In the course of their journey to reconnect, Armaiti, Laleh, Kavita, and Nishta must confront the truths of their lives—acknowledge long-held regrets, face painful secrets and hidden desires, and reconcile their idealistic past and their compromised present. And they will have to decide what matters most, a choice that may just help them reclaim the extraordinary world they once found."
This was not my favorite Umrigar novel, but it was a quick and interesting read that contained great characters that will remain in my mind for a long time. You will definitely root for these characters and weep with them. The book's weakness, however, might be that it tried to deal with so many themes--friendship, love, belonging, the past, religion, feminism, same sex relationships, illness, women's rights, family, classism, politics, regret, modern day India--that it didn't settle on any one for quite long enough to do it justice. By the end of the novel, I still felt like there were a few loose ends that weren't quite followed through to their end.