September 11, 2007

Thrity Umrigar's "The Space Between us" Has the Reader Falling Through.


Ms. Umrigar's "The Space Between Us" left too large a space between reality and fiction for the reader to suspend his disbelief and lose himself in the book. The novel is about the life and relationships of and between two older women at opposite ends of the economic spectrum in Mumbai, a metropolitan city in Western India.

Through the life experiences of these two women Thrity umrigar tries to highlight the plight of women in India regardless of and despite their economic status. The oppression of women and their secondary status in a 'progressive' India seems to be the theme of the novel; a theme that loses punch due to the pervasive and unending gloom that engulfs the story. There is no respite whatsoever!

The two main female characters, Bheema and Sera, though survivors in a male-dominated world, are not convincing, and very often the reader has to take the narrators word to believe in their strength and fortitude. The male characters follow in the same pattern and are stereotypical male chauvanists, some covert and others wearing their male pride on their sleeve. Maya, the young pregnant daughter of Bheema, the servant woman in Sera Dubash's household, is perhaps the only character who stands ground, and only because Ms. Umrigar did not have much to do with her! Maya the character is sidelined by the author; yet, it is she who leaves a lasting impact on the reader.

To be fair to the writer, "The Space Between Us" was well received by the public when it was published in 2005. However, I chose to read it for the lack of having anything better to read. If that is not the case with you, then, you may perhaps want to pass this one.

6 comments:

EXSENO said...

Well, it doesn't seem like it would be worth buying. So I think I'll pass on that one. I don't get much of a chance to sit and read these days, so when I do read a book I want it to grab me with all it's got or I simply can't stick with it. perhaps I just lose interest to easily.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Id!

It's been a while, but I definitely remember enjoying this novel. Sure, stereotypes abound in her cast of characters but I loved the lyrical quality of her writing and it made me very nostalgic for Bombay where I grew up. I also thought about all the household help that passed through our home as we were growing up and I recalled many of their stories which were not too different from Bheema's. I also remember my mom being quite attached to some of the maids. Ok, so they weren't her confidants or anything, but there is a strange sort of bond that forms between the lady of the house and house maid who often sees more of what is going on in that household than anyone else.

Well, I'm rambling....

Hope your next read is a more satisfying one!

eshuneutics said...

Oh id it is, what a shame, "having nothing better to read". I know this feeling well! It is these moments that I am tempted to read education books :-)

nandini said...

There's always blogs :D to read!!!

Id it is said...

lotus,
I'm glad you pointed that out; I may have not seen it the way you do, and perhaps I went into this reading with a certain nonchalance since this novel was not a real 'pick' of mine. After reading your comment I feel like there was a cultural nuance in that relationship that was completely missed by me. Thanks for the firsthand inside; I do so appreciate your taking the time to provide these details.

Id it is said...

eshu,
hehe, You resort to books on education when there is a paucity of good reading material! Now, that says a lot about the quality of literature available in the field of education; a second best! I see your point, completely!