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The Space between Us (P.S.)by Thrity Umrigar
Synopses & Reviews
Each morning, Bhima, a domestic servant in contemporary Bombay, leaves her own small shanty in the slums to tend to another woman's house. In Sera Dubash's home, Bhima scrubs the floors of a house in which she remains an outsider. She cleans furniture she is not permitted to sit on. She washes glasses from which she is not allowed to drink. Yet despite being separated from each other by blood and class, she and Sera find themselves bound by gender and shared life experiences.
Sera is an upper-middle-class Parsi housewife whose opulent surroundings hide the shame and disappointment of her abusive marriage. A widow, she devotes herself to her family, spending much of her time caring for her pregnant daughter, Dinaz, a kindhearted, educated professional, and her charming and successful son-in-law, Viraf.
Bhima, a stoic illiterate hardened by a life of despair and loss, has worked in the Dubash household for more than twenty years. Cursed by fate, she sacrifices all for her beautiful, headstrong granddaughter, Maya, a university student whose education — paid for by Sera — will enable them to escape the slums. But when an unwed Maya becomes pregnant by a man whose identity she refuses to reveal, Bhima's dreams of a better life for her granddaughter, as well as for herself, may be shattered forever.
Poignant and compelling, evocative and unforgettable, The Space Between Us is an intimate portrait of a distant yet familiar world. Set in modern-day India and witnessed through two compelling and achingly real women, the novel shows how the lives of the rich and the poor are intrinsically connected yet vastly removed from each other, and vividly captures how the bonds of womanhood are pitted against the divisions of class and culture.
"Artists know very well that a good way to depict overwhelming social problems is to tell the story of an individual who represents many others....Umrigar is a skilled storyteller, and her memorable characters will live on for a long time." Washington Post
"Part of what makes The Space Between Us so engrossing is its ability to make readers feel empathy for its subjects." San Francisco Chronicle
"With humanity and suspense, novelist Thrity Umrigar tackles love, loyalty, injustice — and survival." Marie Claire
"Umrigar is a perceptive and often piercing writer....Her portrait of Sera as a woman unable to transcend her middle-class skin feels bracingly honest." New York Times Book Review
"Journalist Umrigar evocatively describes daily life in two very different households in modern-day Bombay....[She] beautifully and movingly wends her way through the complexities and subtleties of these unequal but caring relationships." Library Journal
"[A] ruminative novel, told from inside the heads of these close-but-distant women....Umrigar is at her best...conveying the small moments that sustain or degrade the minuet of intimacy." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Sadness suffuses this eloquent tale, whose heart-stopping plot twists reveal the ferocity of fate." Booklist
The novel is provocative and disturbing, asking how female friendship might bridge individual isolation and loneliness." Boston Globe
"Umrigar's imagery, gorgeous yet unflinching in its realism, creates a rich picture of Indian society in Bombay, from slum to skyscraper." Charlotte Observer
“This is a story intimately and compassionately toldagainst the sensuous background of everyday life in Bombay.” —Washington Post Book World
“Bracingly honest.” —New York Times Book Review
The author of Bombay Time,If Today Be Sweet, and The Weight of Heaven, Thrity Umrigar is at adept andcompelling in The Space Between Us—vividlycapturing the social struggles of modern India in a luminous, addictivelyreadable novel of honor, tradition, class, gender, and family. A portrayal oftwo woman discovering an emotional rapport as they struggle against theconfines of a rigid caste system, Umrigarscaptivating second novel echoes the timeless intensity of ZoraNeale Hurstons Their Eyes Were WatchingGod, Betty Smiths A Tree Grows inBrooklyn, and Barbara Kingsolvers ThePoisonwood Bible—a quintessential triumph of modern literary fiction.
Poignant, evocative, and unforgettable, The Space Between Us is an intimate portrait of a distant yet familiar world. Set in modern-day India, it is the story of two compelling and achingly real women: Sera Dubash, an upper-middle-class Parsi housewife whose opulent surroundings hide the shame and disappointment of her abusive marriage, and Bhima, a stoic illiterate hardened by a life of despair and loss, who has worked in the Dubash household for more than twenty years. A powerful and perceptive literary masterwork, author Thrity Umrigar's extraordinary novel demonstrates how the lives of the rich and poor are intrinsically connected yet vastly removed from each other, and how the strong bonds of womanhood are eternally opposed by the divisions of class and culture.
About the Author
A journalist for seventeen years, Thrity Umrigar has written for the Washington Post, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and other national newspapers, and regularly writes for the Boston Globe's book pages. She is the author of the novels Bombay Time, If Today Be Sweet, and The Weight of Heaven, and the memoir First Darling of the Morning: Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood. She teaches creative writing and journalism at Case Western Reserve University, and she lives in Cleveland, Ohio.
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