“A woman can live in one of two houses – fear or love. It is impossible to live in both at the same time.”
I loved Honor, this emotional, thought-provoking story and the incredible writing of author, Thrity Umrigar.
Smita Agarwal, an Indian American reporter from Brooklyn cuts her vacation short to travel to Mumbai as a favor to her friend Shannon, a South Asian correspondent. Shannon needs surgery and wants Smita to take over coverage of an important legal story she is working on, so Shannon’s friend, Mohan, a native of India volunteers to escort Smita to villages around Mumbai as she does research and conducts interviews in preparation.
The investigation is about Meena, a Hindu woman who went against her religion and married the love of her life, Abdul Mustafa, a Muslim man. Her brothers strongly believed she brought shame to their family and to show loyalty to Hinduism and with the support of their community they set Meena and Abdul’s hut on fire with the couple inside. Abdul burned to his death and Meena, pregnant at the time, suffered horrible injuries. Currently Meena, disfigured and feeling hopeless, lives with her daughter in a hut adjacent to Abdul’s mother. Meena has no parents, her brothers want her dead, and her mother-in-law blames her for the death of her son, so when she was approached by a feminist lawyer wanting to help punish the brothers, Meena, feeling hopeless about her own future, agreed to prosecute, feeling she had a responsibility to speak out, setting an example, standing up for women’s rights.
Is honor worth killing for? Dying for? How far is far enough to go to stand up for what you believe in and how does love, responsibility and community impact life decisions?
In Thrity Umrigar’s Honor, Meena’s fight for justice is enhanced by Smita’s internal battles; she works through her feeling about India, the beautiful country where she lived as a child, its corruption and imbalance of power, sacrifices her father made long ago, and her growing relationship with Mohan. There is so much to think about and learn when it comes to women’s rights, religion, hierarchy, status and wealth in India, and of course, the universal power of love. From the setting, to the deep characters to the highly anticpated court case, this was an emotional and all-absorbing beautiful novel! Honor is available January 4th and can be ordered now…I loved this book and highly recommend it.
Reese Witherspoon has chosen Honor as her January 2022 Book Club Pick!
About the Author:
Thrity Umrigar is the best-selling author of the novels Bombay Time, The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet, The Weight of Heaven, The World We Found, The Story Hour, Everybody’s Son and The Secrets Between Us. Her new novel, Honor, will be published in January 2021. She is also the author of the memoir, First Darling of the Morning. Her books have been translated into several languages and published in over fifteen countries. She is a Distinguished University Professor of English at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
The Space Between Us was a finalist for the PEN/Beyond Margins award, while her memoir was a finalist for the Society of Midland Authors award. If Today Be Sweet was a Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selection, while her other books have been Community Reads selections. Thrity is the winner of the Cleveland Arts Prize, a Lambda Literary award and the Seth Rosenberg prize. She is also the recipient of the Nieman Fellowship to Harvard.
Thrity was born in Bombay, India and came to the U.S. when she was 21. As a Parsi child attending a Catholic school in a predominantly Hindu country, she had the kind of schizophrenic and cosmopolitan childhood that has served her well in her life as a writer. Accused by teachers and parents alike of being a daydreaming, head-in-the-clouds child, she grew up lost in the fictional worlds created by Steinbeck, Hemingway, Woolf and Faulkner. She would emerge long enough from these books to create her own fictional and poetic worlds. Encouraged by her practical-minded parents to get an undergraduate degree in business, Thrity survived business school by creating a drama club and writing, directing and acting in plays. Her first short stories, essays and poems were published in national magazines and newspapers in India at age fifteen.
After earning a M.A. in journalism in the U.S., Thrity worked for several years as an award-winning reporter, columnist and magazine writer. She also earned a Ph.D. in English. In 1999, Thrity won a one-year Nieman Fellowship to Harvard University, which is given to mid-career journalists.
While at Harvard, Thrity wrote her first novel, Bombay Time. In 2002 she accepted a teaching position at Case Western Reserve University, where she was recently named a Distinguished University Professor of English. Her articles have been published in national publications such as The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Boston Globe.
Thrity is active on the national lecture circuit and has spoken at book festivals such as the L.A. Festival of Books, the Tuscon Book Festival and the Miami Book Fair International; at universities such as MIT, Harvard University, and Spelman College; and at literary societies, civic and business organizations and public libraries all across the country.