Thrity Umrigar
Contemporary Fiction
Pub Date: Jan 4, 2022
326 Pages

Smita is an Indian American journalist covering the story of Meena, a Hindu woman recovering from an attack by her own family and community who have turned on her for marrying a Muslim man. Smita's family left India when she was very young, with no intention of turning back. Smita's unexpected investment in Meena's story and the prejudices and dangers she faces causes her to start some internal reflection on how each woman is affected by her family, and what lies in their past.

While on her trip, Smita falls for a local Indian man, Mohan. While she feels no need to find love while on such a serious trip, she is constantly drawn to him and his culture. Where would Smita be if she never left India? Could she actually have a future with an Indian man as an Americanized woman set in her ideals?

Honor evaluates the prejudices and lines that formed between the Hindu and Muslim populations in India and how it affects the everyday life of Indian citizens. It quietly reminds us that the west seems to have turned a blind eye to such heartbreak. This novel is full of brutal truths and investigations into the life of the Eastern world, one of which that is not covered often enough in western literature.

What I Enjoyed
I have an embarrassing amount of ignorance surrounding Asian history and culture. The knowledge that fills this novel should compel everyone to read it. Umrigar highlights the clash of the Hindu and Muslim communities through the personal story of Meena, a woman shunned from her family because she fell in love with a man of the wrong religion.

Smita's story also provides an additional source of depth. Umrigar talks about the impact of immigration and loss of culture when one flees from their home country, a decision that would never be made easily or lightly. The character work in this novel was excellent. Both woman are courageous and impossible not to root for in the face of such adversity.

What Could Have Been Better
The relationship between Smita and Mohan seemed very frivolous. If I had to guess, this was pushed by a publisher or an editor to add a romance element to appeal to more readers. It did not enhance the story or help propel the narrative along. In fact, the entire love story (and the ending) was very Bollywood. I wanted to erase the last 20 pages. I did not feel like this romance needed to be in such a perfectly done story with extremely heavy subjects that were expertly explored.

Final Recommendation
Read this book. This is one that I really love and recommend to any adult. I think this is full of subject matter not widely known by most western societies, but impacts such a huge amount of the world's population. Have the time to really digest the information, but don't be surprised if you devour this book in a couple of days.

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