Thrity Umirgar's The World We Found is my first experience with this marvelous author. I have read several books now centering around Indian characters, and I love the fact that Umrigar's book tells the story of four college friends now reuniting years later.
While three of the women have remained in India, their friend Armaiti has moved to America, married, raised a daughter, and divorced. Now, after being diagnosed with a brain tumor, she wants to reunite with her best friends from college before she dies. While miles separate them, the fourth friend in their group, Nishta, adds another complication to the idea of seeing each other again. Nishta has been disowned by her family for marrying Iqbal, a Muslim. Laila and Kavita set out to try and locate their friend- who they have not seen for twenty-five years. Their search leads them to a poor section of the city and eventually to their friend Nishta, who has become a Muslim and now goes by the name Zoha. It seem the young woman they once knew has changed dramatically.
Meanwhile, in America, Armaiti struggles with the progression of her disease, anxious to see her friends once more. Although Laila and Kavita share a portion of their story, much of this book is devoted to Nishta and her choices about becoming a Muslim and her desire to reclaim her life.
I smiled to myself as I read, because these characters who seem to be the epitome of Indian life would suddenly sound so American- such as Laila's praise for her husband "You're a good man, Charlie Brown," as he offered to help her with her trip to America. Umrigar is able to give a glimpse of what life was like for these university students in the 1970s, as well as the different political viewpoints and changes that have led them to their current place in life.
After having read Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a look at the poverty in India, Umrigar's novel explores a life of wealth and privilege in this complex country.