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4143461,620 (4.14)15
Fiction. Literature. HTML:THE JANUARY 2022 REESE'S BOOK CLUB PICK
â??In the way A Thousand Splendid Suns told of Afghanistanâ??s women, Thrity Umrigar tells a story of India with the intimacy of one who knows the many facets of a land both modern and ancient, awash in contradictions.â?ť â??Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours 

In this riveting and immersive novel, bestselling author Thrity Umrigar tells the story of two couples and the sometimes dangerous and heartbreaking challenges of love across a cultural divide.
 
Indian American journalist Smita has returned to India to cover a story, but reluctantly: long ago she and her family left the country with no intention of ever coming back. As she follows the case of Meenaâ??a Hindu woman attacked by members of her own village and her own family for marrying a Muslim manâ??Smita comes face to face with a society where tradition carries more weight than oneâ??s own heart, and a story that threatens to unearth the painful secrets of Smitaâ??s own past. While Meenaâ??s fate hangs in the balance, Smita tries in every way she can to right the scales. She also finds herself increasingly drawn to Mohan, an Indian man she meets while on assignment. But the dual love stories of Honor are as different as the cultures of Meena and Smita themselves: Smita realizes she has the freedom to enter into a casual affair, knowing she can decide later how much it means to her.
In this tender and evocative novel about love, hope, familial devotion, betrayal, and sacrifice, Thrity Umrigar shows us two courageous women trying to navigate how to be true to their homelands and themselves at the same
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» See also 15 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Devastatingly well written. Beautifully tragic. Both awe-striking and awe-inspiring. The story highlights the injustices that exist in the world, and the individuals who are fighting these horrors and inequalities. This story led to such deep feelings of profound sadness and shame knowing that these stories exist not just in fiction. If you haven't given this book a read I highly highly recommend. ( )
  clougreen | Jun 5, 2024 |
The Short of It:

Weighty.

The Rest of It:

In Honor, Indian American journalist Smita has returned to India to cover a story, but reluctantly: long ago she and her family left the country with no intention of ever coming back. As she follows the case of Meena–a Hindu woman attacked by members of her own village and her own family for marrying a Muslim man–Smita comes face to face with a society where tradition carries more weight than one’s own heart, and a story that threatens to unearth the painful secrets of Smita’s own past. ~Indiebound

I was immediately pulled into this story. Meena’s story of abuse at the hands of her own brothers, was intense in the telling. Permanently disfigured by fire and ridiculed by the entire village for falling in love and marrying a Muslim man, proved to be too much for her to overcome. As unwelcome as she is, her young daughter, Abra is what keeps her there. Forced to live with a MIL who hates her for what happened to her son, the only thing that grounds her are the ethereal visits of her husband Abdul as he makes his presence known through dreams.

Smita, a journalist, returns to India to assist a colleague who is having hip surgery. Her entire motivation for going is to just help her colleague during recovery. India is not a place she ever wanted to return to. Too many memories of when her family was forced to leave when she was a child. But when she arrives, she finds out that Shannon wants her to pick up Meena’s story. That her time in India will not be spent navigating recovery, but interviewing Meena, the MIL, the brothers that caused her so much pain. This was not in the cards, but how can such a story go untold?

Smita’s time in India is wrought with unpleasant memories, difficult people, and reluctant witnesses. Her only saving grace is the man who Shannon brought in to help navigate the language barrier. Mohan’s kindness, common sense and loyalty to Smita and Shannon prove to be invaluable.

This was an easy story to fall into given the weighty subject matter but the ending! No spoilers but I was not prepared for the ending. It was like a slap to the face! Overall, to say that I “enjoyed” this story would be a real stretch but I found myself taken by the characters and the difficulty presenting itself as Meena’s story is told. It was chosen for my book club and I think there will be plenty to discuss. ( )
  tibobi | Jun 4, 2024 |
Honor, Thrity Umrigar, author; Sneha Maathan, narrator
Two women, from two different walks of life, Smita and Meena, find common ground to communicate with each other and form a bond, even as their worlds collide and their differences can never be reconciled. The contrasts are many. One comes from privilege and the other from abject poverty. One is educated and the other illiterate. One works happily as a journalist, and the other is forbidden to work and is punished for being employed. Yet, both are compatible, as the plight of the one is going to be published to enlighten the public and the world about the atrocities that are committed in the name of religion, in the name of honor, the definition of which is often corrupted from its intended meaning.
This author was born in India and emigrated to America, just like Smita, but at different times in history. Umrigar came in the 70’s to study, and this book begins around the mid 90’s, when Smita and her family sought a place of refuge from religious prejudice. Still, regardless of the timeline, injustice still exists in parts of the world, and the author exposes the underbelly of that corruption. It once lurked loudly in many corners of her home country.
In this novel, Meena, a Hindu, had the misfortune of falling in love with Abdul, a Muslim. This book is the story of their forbidden love, one so pure, we will all hope to have had it, or to have it someday, a love that crossed the lines of what was acceptable. In their villages, villages that were backward and ruled by religious fundamentalists, the zealots worked their followers into a frenzy, calling on them to do unspeakable things when they felt dishonored.
Meena and Abdul met at the factory, a place Meena had been forbidden to work at by her brothers, although they happily stole her earnings which was considered theirs, since she, as a female, was entitled to nothing. She worked there to protect her sister who had been the one who insisted on working there. Abdul was different than most men; he treated Meena with enormous respect, even allowing her to taste food before he did, something no Hindu would do in her village. So, their love grew as the shameful behavior of her brothers grew. They believed Meena’s behavior was humiliating them in front of the other village men. The village elder agreed. He was a despicable person who believed in his own power, natural and supernatural, and he used it to control the villagers. As Smita pursues the investigation for her article, she witnesses the abuse Meena is forced to endure. At the same time, she begins to grow close to her companion, interpreter and guide, Mohan, a privileged Parsi (like the author, who was also a Parsi). Is their love acceptable? It seems that she too has found an unusual, sensitive man who respects women. The outcome of both these loves will be totally different.
The narrator who read this novel was excellent. She captured the spirit and importance of each scene, and each character was portrayed so authentically, that the book played out in the theater of my mind as if I was viewing a stage production. Umrigar has truly captured man’s inhumanity to man, but she has coupled it with man's ultimate humanity, as well. While she clearly illustrates that violence pursued in the name of G-d, is not G-dly, but rather is abhorrent, she finds ways to point out other moments in which the characters rise above their human failures to shine with boldness and goodness, lending justice to the use of the term honor.
Privilege does not make one worthy, character does, and the author has shown that Meena has the character and common sense to be a most worthy human being, and like all those who are poor or victims of circumstances stemming from fundamentalist religious beliefs or superstition, are deserving of decent lives and respect, and not of being tormented and punished or ridiculed. Meena was the perfect spokeswoman. Her words were genuine and heartfelt.
In this book, the author has explored the contrasts between the religious and temporal, sophistication and simplicity, elites vs commoners, and privileged vs the underprivileged on every page. In some cases, right and wrong , legal and illegal, retribution and reward, all depend on how money changes hands and on what religious group has more power. In India, a country of caste and division, we witness a place of contradictions. The Taj Mahal and the major cities are in stark contrast to the villages where the illiterate and poverty-stricken manage to eke out a meager existence, where women, like chattel, follow the rules of the men, their traditions and their culture closely. Women exist to cook, clean and birth babies. Women did as they were told, or they suffered the consequences. Men controlled everything, even what belonged to the women no longer belonged to them, but to their male siblings or husbands.
While this way of life exists today, it is rare, but there are places where religion and honor conflict with reality. In an interview, Umrigar stated that she feared the world was going backward not forward. She refers to the previous administration. She believes the progress made in the last couple of decades may be in the process of reversal. As a witness to the events of those decades she writes about, and the current one, I disagree with her. In her book, she has Anjelie (a lawyer who represented Meena in the murder case), and Smita, questioning whether or not they are purveyors of “poverty porn”, just to get headlines. Are they achieving their goal of enlightening the world to the problems women face that will encourage meaningful change? In some way, is not the author, Umrigar, with her books, not doing the same thing. When a character in this novel compares an unjustified horrible and heinous religious act, resulting in the murder of its victim, to a policeman who may have justifiably shot an unarmed black man resisting arrest, it gave me pause. Was this the author’s need to pass on her political viewpoint in a novel that had nothing to do with it. The two events had no comparison or common ground, and its inclusion diminished that moment in the book.
During an interview with Kabir Bhatia, at the the Hudson Library and Historical Society that is available on utube, I heard her say that the election of Trump appalled her. It concerned Trump’s dislike of the terrorism of religious zealots. Did that mean he disliked the religion of the zealot or the race of the terrorist? I think not. Thus, some of her examples gave away her political predilection, and perhaps not the reality to all people. I searched for an interview to find out if the incident mentioned stemmed from a real event that contained those words, but found none. It does not mean it does not exist, but that I could not find it.
Absent the mention of racism in America and the intimation of her dislike of Trump, both of which were totally out of place, for me, I would have given it five stars. There are moments in this book when it will be hard to go on, because the content is about incredible arrogance, injustice and brutality, but the book needs to be read to open other minds to the need to put an end to such behavior. ( )
  thewanderingjew | Apr 29, 2024 |
I listened to this on MP3 CD all day yesterday, which was eleven and a half hours. I feel like I have had an incredible experience. Smita, an American Indiana journalist rushes to her co-worker's side. She thought that she was being called to comfort her during an emergency hip replacement surgery in Mumbai. But her friend wants her to step in and finish covering a story about Hindu woman who own family burned her husband to death and badly burned her out of honor. The woman, Meena had been pulled into working away from home by her sister to support their family, She reluctantly meets with a Muslim man who declares his love for her after watching her helping others at the factory.

While at the hospital, Smita meets a Mohan, an associate of her co-worker who acts as a translater and as person with insight into the local culture, a relationship slowly and guarded develops between Smita and Mohan. Smita decides to tell Mohan about her family escape from India long ago. Mohan is from a rich glass maker family. He falls for Smita and ts to be with her for the rest of his life.

There is a child, Abu, which means Honor from the marriage of Meena and Abdul, the most tragic marriage that I have ever read about.

This is a very emotional story, one of religious prejudice, murder, joy, extreme terror. It is the best one from Thrity Umrigar that I have read and I hope that every one reads it. ( )
  Carolee888 | Apr 3, 2024 |
Tells the tale of two couples and the sometimes dangerous and heartbreaking challenges of love across a cultural divide.
Indian American journalist Smita has returned to India to clever a story, it reluctantly: l9ng ago she and her family left the country with no intention of ever coming back. As she follows the case of. Elena-a Hindu woman attacked by members of her own village and family for marrying a Muslim man-Smita’s comes face to face with a society where traditioncarries more weight than one’s own heart, and a story that threatens to unearth the painful secrets of Smita’s own past.
The story shows how two women can remain true to their homeland and to themselves at the same time. ( )
  creighley | Jan 18, 2024 |
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Epigraph
What we don't say
we carry in our suitcases, coat pockets, our nostrils.
- "Town Watches Them Take Alfonso," Ilya Kaminsky
This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
- "Good Bones," Maggie Smith
Dedication
For Feroza Freeland,
whose light brightens our path
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Fiction. Literature. HTML:THE JANUARY 2022 REESE'S BOOK CLUB PICK
â??In the way A Thousand Splendid Suns told of Afghanistanâ??s women, Thrity Umrigar tells a story of India with the intimacy of one who knows the many facets of a land both modern and ancient, awash in contradictions.â?ť â??Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours 

In this riveting and immersive novel, bestselling author Thrity Umrigar tells the story of two couples and the sometimes dangerous and heartbreaking challenges of love across a cultural divide.
 
Indian American journalist Smita has returned to India to cover a story, but reluctantly: long ago she and her family left the country with no intention of ever coming back. As she follows the case of Meenaâ??a Hindu woman attacked by members of her own village and her own family for marrying a Muslim manâ??Smita comes face to face with a society where tradition carries more weight than oneâ??s own heart, and a story that threatens to unearth the painful secrets of Smitaâ??s own past. While Meenaâ??s fate hangs in the balance, Smita tries in every way she can to right the scales. She also finds herself increasingly drawn to Mohan, an Indian man she meets while on assignment. But the dual love stories of Honor are as different as the cultures of Meena and Smita themselves: Smita realizes she has the freedom to enter into a casual affair, knowing she can decide later how much it means to her.
In this tender and evocative novel about love, hope, familial devotion, betrayal, and sacrifice, Thrity Umrigar shows us two courageous women trying to navigate how to be true to their homelands and themselves at the same

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