Read advance reader review of Honor by Thrity Umrigar, page 3 of 6

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by Thrity Umrigar

Honor by Thrity Umrigar X
Honor by Thrity Umrigar
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2022, 336 pages

    Oct 2022, 352 pages


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  • Amy W. (Annapolis, MD)
    Must Read
    Honor was one of the best books I have read this year. Not only was it beautifully written but the story enlightened me to the struggles of women from India as well as the animosity that still exists between Hindus and Muslims. I highly recommend this book.
  • Sylvia T. (Rancho Mirage, CA)
    Ms. Umrigar Does Not Disappoint
    Honor was well written, with a compelling storyline. Heartbreaking and anger inducing. As a reader, I was filled with admiration for the bravery, selflessness, and empathy of the main characters. The contrast between old and modern India was well portrayed. All in all, an excellent and important book. Highly recommended.
  • Deb H.
    Compelling read
    Umrigar presents us with many conflicts in "Honor." We see modern India vs. remote Indian villages. We see Hindu vs. Muslim, we see an Americanized Indian woman vs. one entrenched in the atrocities carried out by her village. While reading "Honor" aroused strong emotion, it also provided a beautiful story that captured my interest and introduced compelling characters. I would strongly recommended this for reading groups as the discussions might well be rewarding. I am always happy to recommend a title that causes one to reflect and to empathize.
  • Janice P. (South Woodstock, VT)
    More Than a Gripping Story
    I've been a fan of Thrity Umrigar's fiction since the 2006 publication of The Space Between Us. A Mumbai native who emigrated to the US at 21, her novels all explore the various "spaces" between us—caste or class, religion, race, above all gender—within the social context of modern India, but with timely parallels to the United States. I am drawn to her distinctive protagonists, women whose struggles to develop their unique selves are always for the sake of something larger, something at stake for humanity, theirs and ours.

    Honor likewise presents the dilemma of a relatable young woman, Smita—a Mumbai native who is now an American journalist, reluctantly returning to India on an assignment she accepted as a favor to a friend—as not merely a personal or political problem, but ultimately as a quandary that challenges us to think about what matters most. Her assignment is to profile Meena, a Hindu villager whose Muslim husband was burned to death in an "honor killing" by Meena's brothers. Meena, left disfigured in the attack, has brought charges; a verdict pends.

    Umrigar's strength is her great storytelling. As always, not a word is wasted here as she moves us through urban Mumbai and into Meena's rural village, settings like and unlike our own…and into complex encounters and confrontations that Smita views with double vision as an Indian-American. Her investigation stirs up painful memories of her youth in Mumbai, during the years when rising Hindu nationalism reawakened the violence of partition, now a fact of life in India (as in America). Suspense builds.

    At the center of the story is Smita's developing bond with Meena and with Mohan, the friend of her journalistic friend, who is acting as her guide, driver and protector, in a village where women are not supposed to work, let alone as journalists.

    I highly recommend Honor as an engrossing story that rewards us with far more than entertainment.
  • Joyce W. (Rochester, MN)
    Honor is an excellent book which did not surprise me as Thrity Umrigar is an excellent author. From the title "Honor" I knew it would be about an honor killing.
    The book gave a good description of the difference between the city and villages. I was surprised at how much authority and power the tribal chief had in his village .I plan to research how a chief is chosen (heredity or votes). When Smita tells about her childhood and why she went to America, it explains her love/hate relationship with India. The violence is tempered by the love stories of both Meena and Smita which keeps the book from being too depressing.
    Parents, the world over, all want a better life for their children and are willing to sacrifice themselves to obtain it. This is a good book for a Book Club, and I will also tell all my friends to read it.
  • Kate S. (Arvada, CO)
    Thrity Umrigar at her BEST
    There are only a handful of books that I don't want to end because I am so taken into the story; and when it does end, I cannot get it out of my mind. HONOR is one of those books. It is a hard subject matter to read, but Umrigar does it in such a way that you feel the injustice, the hate, the pain, but can continue reading. She is a master at balancing the horror of what mankind is capable of; while also showing the love, loyalty, and compassion that lives within so many. Loved the book, loved the title, loved, the cover, I hope the publisher keeps the mangos. Such a simple image, but really the start of a love story. Highly recommended!
  • Joan V. (Miller Place, NY)
    Can you ever go home again?
    This was an easy book to rate, no hesitation five stars, but then the author is Thrity Umrigar who never disappoints. The story follows Smita a journalist who travels the world reporting on human rights abuses. She comes back to India, a country that she left when she was a teenager and had no intention of returning in order to help her fellow journalist Shannon. What she doesn't realize is that what Shannon wants is not help with her recovery from surgery but to write a story about a woman named Meena.

    Meena is a Hindu who married Abdul a Muslim and because this caused shame on her family her brothers set fire to the couple's home. Abdul died and Meena escaped but she was horribly disfigured. Meena did an unusual thing and brought charges of murder against her brothers.

    When I first started to read "Honor" I thought it was set in the distant past. The fact that it takes place in present day India was a shock. The murder happened in a remote area where Hindu and Muslin relations don't seem to have changed since the 1940s when the country was divided.

    Because of an incident that changed her life and gradually unfolds, Smita's feelings for India are summed up when she says, "...she found herself dealing with everything she detested about this country - its treatment of women, it's conservatism. But you're the damn gender issues reporter."

    Shannon has her friend Mohan an upper caste Hindu escort Smita to meet Meena, her lawyer and her brothers. At first Smita sees Mohan as a privileged rich man and dislikes him. However, as she gets to know him she starts to view him and India, the country he loves, in a different way.

    Ms. Umrigar brings the city of Mumbai to life with her descriptions of the crowds, the heat, the beauty and the cultural disparities. You feel as if you are on the journey with them whether they are in a large city or a remote village. Smita's journey helps her to come to terms with her past, to heal and to appreciate the things she loved about her homeland. We also learn about Meena and come to respect her strength and courage as she tries to protect her daughter Abru and face the consequences of her decision to marry outside her faith and try to live her husband's dream of a new Hindustan.

    It is impossible to read this book and not be touched by these characters and deeply immerse yourself in their stories.

    Parts of this book are hard to read, but I think it would make an excellent choice for a book club.

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