Published by HarperCollins
Publication date: January 3rd 2012
Genres: Cultural, Fiction
College is the last stand for the enthusiasm and idealism of youth and for four friends in Bombay it was where they cemented the friendship they believed would last throughout their lives. Then the world stepped in and the passions of Laleh, Armaiti, Kavita, and Nishta gave way to the realities of life. It isn’t until decades later when Laleh hears from Armaiti, now living in the U.S., that she is dying and wants only to see her old friends, that the past re-appears and they must all struggle to reconcile the girls they were and the women they’ve become.
The World We Found is the latest from Thrity Umrigar. In it she takes four young women of disparate economic backgrounds and creates a friendship born out of the activism in Bombay in the 1970s. But while politics unites them it is their lives as women that keep them together until jobs, partners, and a continent pull them apart. Using the passing of time Umrigar explores the changes each goes through and how the ties they thought would never fray have gone so far as to break in some cases. Nishta is one of the first to be lost—by going against her family’s wishes and marrying a Muslim. When that husband becomes a fundamentalist despite his agnosticism in college, Nishta’s life becomes one she never imagined possible. The first time he insists she wear a burka when they go outside
Her face broke out in a sweat brought on by the unimaginable heat under the hood and a heart-pounding fear that was existential. It felt like death—a slipping away, a disappearance, an obliteration…
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Laleh, the fieriest of their socialist group, who is now the wife of a wealthy contractor, living in splendor with servants and a fine car. For her, the struggle is to blend the beliefs of her youth with the opulence of her adult life. At the same time she feels the pangs of the past and what has been lost. Armaiti lives in America and tries to raise a daughter with a multi-cultural perspective and Kavita lives a secret life certain that no one from her past could understand.
With her journalistic background Umrigar deftly covers some of today’s hot topics in The World We Found. At the same time she infuses them with all the confusion and emotion that comes with being human. Her characters resonate and their situations, even if thousands of miles away, are relatable to all readers. Love, friendship, marriage, aging, religion, death—all are touched upon in her work and tenderly woven into stories you want to keep reading.