Synopses & Reviews
Finalist for the Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction
“The excellent strength [the novellas] share is a gracefulness and dreamlike sonority, reminiscent of writers like Jhumpa Lahiri and W.G. Sebald, wherein strange evolutions of solitary lives are the rule, and readers are held by the stately, hypnotic dignity of the voice that tells them.” – San Francisco Chronicle
Set in modern India, these three novellas move beyond the cities to places still haunted by the past, and to characters who are, each in their own way, masters of self-effacement. An unnamed government official is called upon to inspect a faded mansion of forgotten treasures where he discovers a surprise "relic." A translator blurs the line between writer and translator, and in so doing risks unraveling her desires and achievements. In the title novella, a hermit hidden away in the woods with a secret is discovered by a film crew, which compels him to withdraw even further until he magically disappears . . .
Rich and evocative, remarkable in their clarity and sensuous in their telling, these novellas remind us of the extraordinary yet delicate power of this pre-eminent writer.
“Desai, at her best, offers enchanting, subtle, and deeply observed portraits of layered characters trapped between worlds.” – Daily Beast
“Lingers in the memory the same way these landscapes and people of India prove impossible to forget.” – Boston Globe
“Umrigar beautifully illuminates how human relationships are complicated by cultural, geographical, and class divides.” More Magazine
Filled with satisfyingly real characters and glowing with local color, "The Weight of Heaven" is a rare glimpse of a family and a country struggling under pressures beyond their control.
When Frank and Ellie Benton lose their only child, seven-year-old Benny, to a sudden illness, the perfect life they had built is shattered. Filled with wrenching memories, their Ann Arbor home becomes unbearable, and their marriage founders. Then an unexpected job half a world away in Girbaug, India, offers them an opportunity to start again. But Frank's befriending of Ramesh—a bright, curious boy who quickly becomes the focus of his attentions—will lead the grieving man down an ever-darkening path with stark repercussions.
A devastating look at cultural clashes and divides, Thrity Umrigar's The Weight of Heaven is a rare glimpse of a family and a country struggling under pressures beyond their control.
“Powerful. . . . Twisty, brimming with dark humor and keen moral insight, The Weight of Heaven
packs a wallop on both a literary and emotional level. . . . Umrigar . . . is a descriptive master.” — Christian Science Monitor
From Thrity Umrigar, bestselling author of The Space Between Us, comes The Weight of Heaven. In the rich tradition of the acclaimed works of Indian writers such as Rohinton Mistry, Akhil Sharma, Indra Sinha, and Jhumpa Lahiri, The Weight of Heaven is an emotionally charged story about unexpected death, unhealed wounds, and the price one father will pay to protect himself from pain and loss. Additionally, it offers unique perspectives, both Indian and American, on the fragmented nature of globalized India.
Award-winning novelist Anita Desai explores time and transformation in three artful novellas, set in modern India.
About the Author
Thrity Umrigar is the author of five other novels—The World We Found, The Weight of Heaven, The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet, and Bombay Time—and the memoir First Darling of the Morning. An award-winning journalist, she has been a contributor to the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Huffington Post, among other publications. She is the winner of the Nieman Fellowship to Harvard, Cleveland Arts Prize, and Seth Rosenberg Prize, and is the Armington Professor of English at Case-Western Reserve University.
Table of Contents
The Museum of Final Journeys
The Artist of Disappearance