Bombay Time: Book summary and reviews of Bombay Time by Thrity Umrigar

Bombay Time

A Novel

By Thrity Umrigar

Bombay Time
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2001,
    256 pages.

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Book Summary

A rich, moving, and deeply felt first novel, Bombay Time portrays the lives of longtime residents of a middle-class apartment building, and their complex relationship with the city of their birth. The men and women who live in Wadia Baug are all Parsis, a small ethnic minority whose relative affluence and Western orientation make them stand out in a city of mass poverty. Gathering for the wedding of one of their youngest members, the older residents look back on their youthful, more idealistic selves.

With wisdom and compassion, Thrity Umrigar introduces us to the Parsi men and women who have grown up together in the aging community of Wadia Baug. She traces young Adi Patel's disintegration into alcoholism; indicts Dosamai, the old neighborhood gossip; exposes the shattering romantic betrayal Soli Contractor suffered many years ago; depicts the rise of Jimmy Kanga, the local success story; and examines the history of the reclusive wisdow Tehmi Engineer. Above all, Umrigar gives us a nuanced portrait of Rusi Bilimoria, a middle-aged businessman who is struggling to come to terms with a bad marriage and the realization that many of his dreams remain unfulfilled. Long ago stripped of the ideals he held as an inexperienced young man, Rusi tries hard to make sense of his life and hold together a community that is fraying around him.

A keen observer of human relationships, Thrity Umrigar has created a remarkable novel about a group of men and women who are at once completely unique and utterly recognizable to us all.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"...She also manages to work in a portrait of the decline of Bombay, delivering an impressive debut offering a glimpse into a cultural world especially that of the Parsis, an ethnic minority that most Westerners know only in its barest outlines." - Publishers Weekly

"A wonderful addition to both public and academic libraries for its contribution to the emerging Third World voice in literature." - Library Journal

"Bombay Time is sweet, frightening, poignant, and chaotic as Umrigar dramatizes the power of community in the face of an increasingly dangerous and chaotic world." - Booklist

"The minimal plotting is at times contrived and sentimental, but the portrait of the city and its citizens is authoritative, richly textured, and engaging." - Kirkus Reviews

"Thrity Umrigar has an acute ear for dialogue, and a gift for unmasking the complexities of personal relationships. Wise and nuanced, the narrative grips the reader's attention." - Cleveland Plain Dealer

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Author Information

Thrity Umrigar Author Biography

Thrity Umrigar is the author of three other novels—The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet, and Bombay Time—and the memoir First Darling of the Morning. A journalist for 17 years, she is the winner of the Nieman Fellowship to Harvard University and a 2006 finalist for the PEN/Beyond Margins Award. An associate professor of English at Case Western Reserve University, Umrigar lives in Cleveland.

Author Interview
Link to Thrity Umrigar's Website

Name Pronunciation
Thrity Umrigar: thri-tee oomrigar

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