The World We Found

( 30 )

Overview

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 over the past thirty years, the quartet has 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, ...

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Overview

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 over the past thirty years, the quartet has 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.

The World We Found is a dazzling masterwork from the remarkable Thrity Umrigar, offering an unforgettable portrait of modern India while it explores the enduring bonds of friendship and the power of love to change lives.

Winner of the 2013 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction

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Editorial Reviews

People Magazine
"Luminous. . . . Wise and absorbing, Umrigar’s novel has the rich, chaotic vibrancy of a Mumbai marketplace."
Nina Sankovitch
"Asparkling and sharp slice of life."
Booklist (starred review)
“Umrigar renders a vivid portrait of modern-day India as she meditates upon the power of friendship, loyalty, and love. Like her previous works, The World We Found is eloquent and evocative, bitter and sweet.”
Boston Globe
"The World We Found is stunning in its credibility and nuance. . . . This is a novel that rewards reading, and even re-reading. The World We Found is a powerful meditation."
People
“Luminous. . . . Wise and absorbing, Umrigar’s novel has the rich, chaotic vibrancy of a Mumbai marketplace.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"The World We Found is absorbing and resonant."
Minneapolis Star Tribune
"There’s ample discussion to be had here on the topics of family, friendship, religion and marriage. Umrigar is a lively storyteller. The women are sympathetic characters, their relationships fully realized and deeply felt. . . . Umrigar’s evocative world is one worth finding, indeed."
Washington Post
"A storyteller through and through, Umrigar ensures that her characters face up to the costs and consequences created by their choices, right or wrong, principled or unprincipled."
Booklist
"Umrigar renders a vivid portrait of modern-day India as she meditates upon the power of friendship, loyalty, and love. Like her previous works, The World We Found is eloquent and evocative, bitter and sweet."
Library Journal
Forty years after they were university students together in Bombay, three friends reunite to reminisce about their glory days when they learn that one is dying of cancer. (LJ 10/15/11)
Frances Itani
It takes courage to explore the idealism and hopes of youth and to compare these with the realities of lives lived three decades later. What has been compromised? What has been gained or lost? And the always unanswerable question: What might have happened if other choices had been made? Umrigar handles these important themes with expertise and without judgment. A storyteller through and through, she ensures that her characters face up to the costs and consequences created by their choices, right or wrong, principled or unprincipled.
—The Washington Post
Booklist (starred review)
“Umrigar renders a vivid portrait of modern-day India as she meditates upon the power of friendship, loyalty, and love. Like her previous works, The World We Found is eloquent and evocative, bitter and sweet.”
Boston Globe
The World We Found is stunning in its credibility and nuance. . . . This is a novel that rewards reading, and even re-reading. The World We Found is a powerful meditation.”
People
“Luminous. . . . Wise and absorbing, Umrigar’s novel has the rich, chaotic vibrancy of a Mumbai marketplace.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
The World We Found is absorbing and resonant.”
Booklist
"Umrigar renders a vivid portrait of modern-day India as she meditates upon the power of friendship, loyalty, and love. Like her previous works, The World We Found is eloquent and evocative, bitter and sweet."
Washington Post
“A storyteller through and through, Umrigar ensures that her characters face up to the costs and consequences created by their choices, right or wrong, principled or unprincipled.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“There’s ample discussion to be had here on the topics of family, friendship, religion and marriage. Umrigar is a lively storyteller. The women are sympathetic characters, their relationships fully realized and deeply felt. . . . Umrigar’s evocative world is one worth finding, indeed.”
People
“Luminous. . . . Wise and absorbing, Umrigar’s novel has the rich, chaotic vibrancy of a Mumbai marketplace.”
People Magazine
"Luminous. . . . Wise and absorbing, Umrigar’s novel has the rich, chaotic vibrancy of a Mumbai marketplace."
Nina Sankovitch
“Asparkling and sharp slice of life.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061938351
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/31/2012
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 593,235
  • Product dimensions: 5.38 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Thrity Umrigaris the author of five novels and the memoir First Darling of the Morning. A former journalist, she is a winner of the Nieman Fellowship to Harvard and a finalist for the PEN/Beyond Margins Award. A professor of English at Case Western Reserve University, she lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Read an Excerpt

The World We Found

A Novel
By Thirty Umrigar

HarperCollins

Copyright © 2012 Thirty Umrigar
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061938344


Chapter One

The tooth broke three days after she received the awful
news. There was no blood. No pain, even. For three days
she had believed that it was her heart that had broken
into tiny fragments, but turned out it was another part of her
body that decided to mourn the news. No pain, no blood. Just
a moment of puzzlement as she bit into the soft French toast
she made for breakfast this morning and felt something hard
and brittle in her mouth. She spat out two small pieces into her
cupped hand. Dish stared at her for a stunned second and then
said, "Oh, no. What happened? "
She stared back at him, unable to reply, transfixed by the
rightness and wrongness of the broken tooth. On the one hand,
she was not yet fifty and in the pink of health, as her mother
would have said. Much too young to be losing teeth at breakfast.
On the other hand, the evidence before her was appropriate, an
outward manifestation of the brokenness she'd felt ever since
the phone call from Armani. An uncharacteristic acceptance
descended upon Ladle, in contrast to the denial she had felt
since Armani called with news about her cancer. Then, she'd
felt like a wild animal, lassoed by the tyranny of the telephone
cord. No, no, no, she'd shaken her head as she got off the phone.
She rose from the table and headed into the bathroom. She
rinsed her mouth with cold water, and only then did she look
up into the mirror. It was a side tooth and a stubble was still
attached to her gums, and yet, how irrevocably it altered her
appearance. For some absurd reason, it reminded Ladle of the
New York skyline after the towers went missing, a gap that
drew attention to what was absent. Until now, her teeth had
been as sturdy and even as piano keys; but then, until now her
oldest friend in the world had not been dying. It was right
somehow, in this week of reminders of mortality, that she sacrifice
something, too.
Still, she regretted the timing. She and Gravitas were meeting
in a few hours—not enough time to phone the dentist and get
an emergency appointment—to go to Mrs. Gujranwala old
address. They had not seen the woman in almost thirty years,
and given the crucial nature of their mission, Ladle would've
preferred looking her best. The broken tooth was already making
her self conscious. Ladle usually prided herself on not being
vain, though the truth was, being beautiful, she could afford to
give up on vanity. But now, she promised herself that she would
simply not smile during her visit to Mrs. Gujranwala. If the
woman—who would be, what? seventy-five? eighty?—was still
alive, that is. She didn't allow herself to think of what they'd do
if Ishtar's mother had died or moved.
She heard Dish enter the bedroom and the next second he
stood before her, leaning into the door frame of the bathroom
and gazing quizzically at her. "You okay, janu? "
She nodded, smiling with her mouth closed. "I'm fine."
"Sure you don't want me to go with you today? I could leave
work for a few—"
"No need to. We'll manage. I'll call you if there's anything."
He ran his index finger gently over her lips. "Shall I call
Sarosh to see if he can fit you in later this afternoon? "
"That would be great."
"Because you remember the party tonight, yes? I'm sure Sarosh
can make you a temporary crown."
"Oh, shit. I totally forgot." She made a pleading face. "Can't
you just go without me? "
In reply, he leaned forward and kissed her cheek. "Bye. Let
me know what happens."
She grumbled lightly to herself as she got her things ready
for her bath. Adish knew how much she hated his work parties,
how lonely the empty prattle—the fake heartiness and
fake humility—made her feel. They almost always fought on
the way home from one of these affairs. And yet he persisted
in asking her to go. Last week, after Kavita got held up at
work, she had dragged Adish to a play, and in exchange he had
extracted a promise to accompany him to Girish Chandani's
party tonight.
Ah well, Laleh thought as she entered the shower. There were
more important things to think about this morning. Nishta, for
instance. They had to find Nishta. To relay to her Armaiti's
final wish. Even though there had been years of silence between
Armaiti and her. Even though such a wish may mean nothing
to Nishta. Even though she had disappeared from all their lives,
leaving only still air in her wake.
Kavita was driving, and, watching her steady, competent hands
on the wheel, Laleh smiled to herself. She remembered Kavita
as she'd been in college, a shy, dreamy girl who carried her guitar
around everywhere. Hard to believe that that poetic, pensive
girl was now one of the top architects in the city. Laleh sank into
the leather seat and sighed inaudibly, feeling a lifetime removed
from the young, impetuous, idealistic woman she'd been. From
the time when Kavita-Armaiti-Nishta had been one word in her
book, one beating heart. Where were they all now? One dying
in America, one missing, and only Kavita still in her life.
"What? " said Kavita, ever attuned to Laleh's moods.
Laleh shook her head, unable to speak, her mind snagging
on the memory of a certain golden afternoon. They had gotten
together at Nishta's house to study, but what Laleh remembered
now was the four of them lying on their backs on Nishta's bed,
their knees bent at its edge, so that their feet touched the floor.
"Those Were the Days" blasted on the stereo and they sang along
lustily and loudly. "La la la la, la la," they sang at the top of their
lungs, kicking their legs in time to the music. And suddenly,
Armaiti had leapt out of bed and began to dance, dance with such
loose, comic abandon—her hair flying about, tossing her head
back and forth, flaying her rubber-jointed arms and legs—that
the others rose to their feet and joined her. By the time the song
ended, they were all laughing and sweating and exhausted. And
then, as if she'd not been the agent of all this happy chaos,
Armaiti said critically, "What a morbid song, yaar."
"What're you thinking?" Kavita asked.
"Nothing. Everything. About how young we were once."
Kavita looked rueful. "Know what's really sad? I used to
think that everybody had that much fun in their teens. That
everyone had the kind of friendships we did, felt as much passion
and joy."
"I didn't," Laleh said promptly. "I always knew what we had
was rare. Always. Even then. My own children don't have it, Ka.
They have lots of friends, don't get me wrong. But it feels
superficial to me. All they talk about are iPhones and designer jeans.
And they want nothing to do with politics. It's crazy."
"It's a different time, Lal. They're growing up in a different
India."
"Bull. That's what Adish says, also. But what's changed, Kavita?
All the old struggles are still there, no? So they build a few
dozen new malls for people like us. What does that change? "
How her father used to scoff at her and Armaiti when they
would talk about building a better country. "A new India? "
Rumi Madan would thunder at the dinner table after listening
to the two teenagers talk matter-of-factly about the imminent
revolution. "What do you girls think this is, a school play? What
'new India' are you two going to build? Darlings, if there is to be
a new India, it will be built by the politicians and the businessmen.
Above all, the businessmen. Not by a couple of little girls
pretending to be revolutionaries."
Laleh blinked back the tears that rose unexpectedly. Ever
since the phone call from Armaiti, the past had become more
vivid than the present. She had sleepwalked through the past
few days, unable to focus on anything.
And now, the past loomed again, in the form of Nishta's old
apartment building. A thousand memories flooded Laleh's mind
as Kavita searched for a parking space on the tree-lined street.
And although she had felt a great urgency to locate Nishta's parents
ever since Armaiti had called with the news, Laleh now felt
herself moving slowly, as they exited the car and walked toward
the building. When they reached the entrance, she and Kavita
stood wordlessly for a second. Then Kavita exhaled loudly and
they entered the familiar lobby. Their eyes scanned the large
wooden board for the Lokhanwalas' flat number. "Look," Laleh
said. "They're still here. Thank God."
"The lobby still smells the same," Kavita said, and Laleh nodded
as they approached the elevator. "Yup. Like sandalwood."
They rang the doorbell twice before the servant girl
answered. "Hello. Is memsahib home? " Kavita asked.
"Kavita hesitated. "Just tell her . . . it's some old friends."
The girl threw them a skeptical look before putting on the
door chain.
"Yes?" A wizened face peered out at them a few seconds later
from the slight opening in the door. "How can I help? "
"Auntie, it's us—Kavita and Laleh. Nishta's college friends.
You remember us? "
There was a puzzled silence and then the old woman cried
out softly. There was a rustling of the chain before she threw the
door open. "Kavita. Laleh. I cannot believe. What brings you
here? Come in, come in."
A minute later they were sitting across from Mrs. Lokhanwala
in her large, airy living room, the three of them staring at
each other, all of them too polite to comment on the changes
time had wrought. "What will you take? " the old lady said at
last. "Coffee? Tea?" And before they could answer she was calling
out, "Deepa. Bring three cups of coffee. And some snacks."
"Auntie, please. Don't go to any trouble," Laleh said. Her
mind was whirling, trying to reconcile the fact that the stylish,
trim Mrs. Lokhanwala—had they ever known her first
name?—was now an old lady. The living room itself looked
frozen in time—the same cream-colored walls, the gray floor tile,
the beautiful teak rocking chair.
"My God, you two look just the same," Mrs. Lokhanwala
said. "I would've recognized you anywhere."
They smiled shyly. "You, too," Kavita lied. "And what news
of Nishta? "
At the mention of her daughter's name, a curtain fell over the
old woman's face. The smile vanished. Her eyes turned cloudy.
"You don't know? " she whispered.
Laleh leaned forward. "Know what? " she said.
"We don't have any contact with her. My husband—he for-
bade any relations. She married a Muslim boy, you know."
Laleh realized that she'd been holding her breath. "Yes, we
know," she said. "Iqbal was a friend of ours." She forced herself
to keep her tone neutral. "We had hoped that after all this time,
you know, that there might have been a reconciliation."
Despite her tact, the older woman recoiled, as if she'd been
slapped. She stared out at the balcony for a minute before turning
to face them again. "What brings you here today?" And before
they could answer, "And whatever happened to that other
Parsi girl—the fourth one? What was her name? "
"Armaiti," Kavita said.
"Ah, yes. So much I've thought about all of you over the
years." Mrs. Lokhanwala smiled. "So lively our house used to
be, with all of you here." Her face fell. "Now it's just me and my
husband, you know. Our son—you remember Arun?—is
settled in Australia. Anyway, how is Armaiti? You see her often? "
"Fine," Laleh said automatically and then she caught herself.
"Actually, auntie, she's not fine. She lives in America, you
know. And"—it was still hard to say the words, but she forced
herself—"we just found out that she has a serious illness—a
brain tumor."
"Arre, Ram—" Mrs. Lokhanwala's hand flew to her mouth.
"How could that be? That sweet little girl? "
For a moment Laleh saw Armaiti as Mrs. Lokhanwala did—
a teenager forever. She swallowed. "Yes, well . . . And that's
why we're trying to find Nishta. Armaiti wants to reconnect
with her, you see."
The woman's face was impassive. "I wish I could help you,"
she said.
Laleh suppressed the wave of anger that rose within her.
"Does Nishta never try to contact you, either? " she asked evenly.
Mrs. Lokhanwala's eyes darted around the room. "Every
year she sends me a birthday card," she said. "But my husband
doesn't allow me to open. I just throw it away. Or return it."
Laleh stared at a spot over the old woman's left shoulder. She
had saved every note her children had ever written her, from
kindergarten on. She tried to imagine throwing away a birthday
card from Ferzin or Farhad, asked herself what the children
could ever do that would make her renounce them. She couldn't
come up with one plausible scenario.
The servant girl came in with a tray and set it carefully down
in front of them. Laleh grabbed Kavita's arm and pulled her to
her feet as she stood up. "I'm sorry, but we have to go," she said.
She wanted to get away from Mrs. Lokhanwala's presence before
she said something that she would regret.
"At least have a cup of coffee," Mrs. Lokhanwala protested,
but her voice was drained, flat, and there was a look of
understanding on her face.
"I'm sorry, auntie," Laleh insisted. "We are already late." She
would be damned if she took a sip of anything in this household.
Kavita took a few steps to where Mrs. Lokhanwala was sitting
and put her hand on her shoulder. "It was nice seeing you
again," she said softly. "Both of us have such good memories of
this house."
Laleh felt a faint flush on her cheeks, reading a rebuke of her
rude behavior in Kavita's thoughtfulness.
Mrs. Lokhanwala took Kavita's hand in both of hers. "I know
it must seem strange," she began, but Kavita was already
backing away.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The World We Found by Thirty Umrigar Copyright © 2012 by Thirty Umrigar. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 30 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(14)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2014

    Jordan

    Waits.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2014

    The caged girl

    She looks around in fear.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    Be Careful

    Excellent, well paced and thoughtful,I was aware throughout how lucky woman are in this country to be able to make decisions for themselves and how careful one must be with their vote so that doesn't change.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2012

    Expanding horizons

    This book introduced me to political and social issues i never knew existed. It expanded my view of the world and took me to India for awhile. The plot was intriguing. I couldn't wait to turn each page.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2012

    Engaging

    I feel like the author has lived every word of what she writes. Her characters are real and even if you are not familiar with the customs or places you can imagine them to be true.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2012

    What our choices bring

    Well written and thought provoking. If you have ever wondered about the passions and causes you felt as a young adult and wondered what happened to them - this is the book to make you ponder the question even more.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2012

    Good read

    Fairly good, but challenging at times to believe characters' responses to situations. Without close knowledge of the misogynistic Moslem culture, it would be difficult to understand why one of the main characters would tolerate her circumstances. Character development is so-so. Still, a fair read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This is a beautiful story about friendship, written with such in

    This is a beautiful story about friendship, written with such insight and empathy. Although about four female friends, I found that the male characters, Iqbal and Adish, were just as interesting as the female characters.

    I think this is one of the best books I have read this year, and I learned so much about Indian society in the 1970s and today.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 5, 2012

    fair

    I did not like the writers style. It read more like chick lit than the novel I was expecting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2012

    Hope there is a sequel

    I enjoyed the book, it just ended too soon. I hope there will be a sequel

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2012

    The World We Found

    Excellent account of contemporary versus recent-past
    social trends in India. Characters are developed seamlessly and plot moves quickly, captivating and holding reader's interest; however, although aftermath of ending will be obvious to readers, ending was disappointingly abrupt. A sequel would be great.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 10, 2012

    Well worth reading

    The four women we meet are compelling and amazingly real.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 4, 2012

    ENTERTAINING

    I LOVED ALL THE CHARACTERS AND THEIR HUMOR. I FELT FOR EACH OF THEIR SITUATION. BUT I WAS DISAPPOINTED WITH THE ENDING

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 1, 2012

    Lovely and thought-provoking...

    In the late 1970's Laleh, Kavita, Nishta, and Armaiti, were idealistic young students protesting the political conditions in India, passionate about their beliefs and seemingly willing to risk everything to see equality for India's religious and economic minorities. Thirty years later they are all living different lives then they imagined and they haven't stayed the close-knit group they once were. When Armaiti learns she is dying her last wish is to have all of her friends together again. But the reunion opens old wounds and brings to life carefully hidden secrets. Each of the women is forced to examine the life she is living and compare it to her past dreams and ambitions. How do you reconcile the present with the wild, ambitious plans you made in college?

    This is the first book by Thrity Umrigar that I have read, but it won't be the last. Each of the women in this book was interesting and likeable, though all were very different. The contrast of their differences alongside the obvious similarities that made them friends gave the story a very realistic depth and added layers to the plot. The World We Found was the best of both worlds, an easy read that made me think - about India, politics, and most of all how the idealism of university days fades into the reality of middle age forcing each person to hold strong to their ideals while bending them to fit ever changing lives and circumstances. In the end it was an eye-opening, yet lovely read about friendship, change, and growing up.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2012

    GREAT STORY

    I LOVED THIS BOOK, I ANYTHING WRITTEN BY THRITY UMRIGAR, I TOO GREW UP
    IN THE 70'S SO CAN RELATE TO THE TIMES. THIS IS A GREAT STORY OF LIFE TIME FRIENDSHIPS AND HOW OUR WORLD CHANGES OR HOW LIFE CHANGES US, BUT
    OUR FRIENDSHIPS REMAIN STRONG.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2012

    I highly recommend all of Thrity Umrigar's books

    Thrity Umrigar is a wonderful author who brings alive not only India, but all of her characters. This book feels like it needs a sequel and I hope one is in the works. It is a book that you don't want to end. She writes perceptively of the lives of women in a changing society. In The World We Found she writes about the changes in people from their youth as social activists and later as they mature. I have read all of her books and feel that she is underappreciated.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    Enjoyed it very much!

    Ive read every book by her and this is my favorite by far. My only complaint is that I didnt care for the ending, but thats just me. Its definately a great read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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