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4.4 out of 5 stars
Bombay Time: A Novel
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2003
I was completely enthralled with the book and the characters. I absolutely love Thrity Umrigar's writing style and the way in which she was able to make the reader truly identify with each of the characters, their lives, their pains. I have to say that the most disappointing part of the book, was when it ended.
I could NOT put this book down. This author has a special way of really making you feel like you are inside the characters heads and hearts. I think this is a wonderful book about India, but for ANYONE and EVERYONE, from any country in any culture. If you are interested in reading a book rich with emotion and culture, a book that you will think about long after you are finished, and make you hungry for more of these people, and this author, THIS is the book to read! I honestly cried at several points and had to put the book down to contemplate the emotion and thoughts that were conjured up in me. I also laughed heartily at moments.
I carried this book with me everywhere, stealing a sentence here and there while at work, and reading it everynight for about 3 days until I greedily ate up every word. This is a book you can finish in one sitting, but to savoir it, I would recommend spanning it over a couple days, if you can bare it!
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Who knew all this about Parsees? Even after many visits to India, I learned a great deal about both India and the Parsee community from Umrigar's book, and felt I was taught very gently.
A good story, of neighbors and their goings on; anyone could read this and think it was their own neighborhood, in any country!
The one thing I disliked about this book was that the glossary wasn't complete, and Hindi words are not all that common in English. I loaned my copy to a friend, and had to provide her with translations of "chowkidar" (watchman) and many other words that did not appear in the glossary.
In all, however, this was a wonderfully entertaining book and I'll look forward to the next book with Thrity Umrigar's name on it!
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on September 19, 2003
Thrity Umrigar's Bombay Time is one of the best recent books from the Indian subcontinenet. It tells the stories of the residents of Wadia Baug, a block of apartments mainly peopled with Parsis. Each story is told simply and beautifully, with conviction and honesty. All the stories meld into a whole which is held together by the wedding of one of the residents.
Thrity has two of the most important attributes of a great novelist: a great ability to tell a story and a huge heart. Each character is made compelling by her compassion and respect for their meager lives.
It is somewhat unfortunate for Thrity that she is treading on the same ground as Rohinton Mistry who is another of the great novelists of our time. However, this should not in any way diminish her book except perhaps to those who read books from India as an exploration in the exotic rather than the universal human condition.
If you can afford only one book this year, this should be the one!
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on August 13, 2003
This was an excellent book, written smoothly and beautifully. I read, or rather, devoured it in a day. It's been a while since I've done that (with the exception of Harry Potter book V). It's about family, about the way one's choices affects them for the rest of one's life. Beautiful imagery, touching and illuminating. We get a macro and micro view of India through the characters, the situations, the actions. Wonderful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2003
Thrity Umrigar has captured the essence of the experience of being a Parsi in Bombay, India and distilled it beautifully in her 271 page book -- Bombay Time. Reading this wonderful, complex story is like being wrapped in a quilt of stories of Parsis from different walks of life with the whole being greater than the sum of the individual tales. I must confess that I had some difficulty with Ms. Umrigar's writing style which I attribute to a matter of my individual taste. However, Ms. Umrigar is a skillful storyteller and I found myself unable to put the book down as it transported me back to the Bombay of my youth evoking tender, bitter sweet memories with every page. If you're interested in getting an insider's view of this endangered culture (the population of Parsis world wide is falling), I suggest you get yourself a copy of this book.
If you're not familiar with the term "Parsi" - they are descendents of a group of Zarathushtis i.e. followers of the Prophet Zarathustra (anglicized to Zoroaster) who fled Parsa (anglicized to Persia) and came to India some time around the 8th century (may be earlier). Though they've lived in India for well over a thousand years, they've managed to keep certain aspects of their culture distinct especially those that pertain to practicing their religion while simultaneously integrating themselves into the vivid heterogeneous cultural tapestry of India. Try an Internet search on "Parsi" for more information or better still find one and engage in a conversation.
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on July 24, 2003
Bombay Time is an excellent enjoyable book about a group of people who live in an apartment in Bombay. They are not as poor as the folks in Mistry's books which are also about Parsis. They are more involved in relationships than in a struggle for food and not particularly religious. The characters are very memorable and totally believable. If you enjoy reading about India and Indian cultural and Parsi customs in particular, you will enjoy this book. This book is evidence in the ability of the Amazon computer to recommend books as this is the second one that IT recommended to me that I have thoroughly enjoyed.
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on June 29, 2003
Bombay Time is a horrible book, reading it was a waste of time and a test of patience. The book deals with no real issues but does hit you in the face with the Indian Gosip train of family and neighbors. There are so many people meddling around with one anothers affairs that it becomes a frustrating read. Rather than providing an escape from the bickering and mundaneness of life this book whips you right into the thick of it.
There are countless writers from the subcontinent that have done wonders in the world of literature sadly Ms. Umrigar isn't one of them.
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on June 29, 2003
Bombay Time is a horrible book, reading it was a waste of time and a test of patience. The book deals with no real issues but does hit you in the face with the Indian Gosip train of family and neighbors. There are so many people meddling around with one anothers affairs that it becomes a frustrating read. Rather than providing an escape from the bickering and mundaneness of life this book whips you right into the thick of it.
There are countless writers from the subcontinent that have done wonders in the world of literature sadly Ms. Umrigar isn't one of them.
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on January 12, 2003
THRITY UMRIGAR'S DEBUT NOVEL, BOMBAY TIME, IS EXTRAORDINARY. A NATURAL BORN WRITER IT SEEMS, MS. UMRIGAR TAKES THE READER ON A JOURNEY THROUGH THE LIVES OF THE RESIDENTS OF WADIA BAUG. HER ABILITY TO MAKE HER CHARACTERS SPEAK TO THE READER IN SUCH A MOVING WAY IS TRULY RARE. SOMEHOW I'M SURE THAT THE RESIDENTS OF WADIA BAUG REALLY RESIDE INSIDE HER HEART AND HEAD INSTEAD. THE STORY IS RICHLY SPUN AND MS. UMRIGAR'S BOMBAY, EVEN WITH ALL ITS ILLS, GLITTERS STILL. I'M ONLY SORRY IT TOOK ME SO LONG TO GET TO THIS BOOK; IT DESERVES TOP OF THE STACK. I AM GREATLY ANTICIPATING WHAT I'VE JUST LEARNED WILL BE MS. UMRIGAR'S NEXT BOOK: A MEMOIR OF GROWING UP IN INDIA, HARPER COLLINS,INDIA, 2003. THANK YOU MS. UMRIGAR.
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on June 24, 2002
In Bombay Time, Thrity Umrigar focusses on a small neighbourhood community of Parsi Indians. All share a common bond for the apartment block that they share, and a common bond of heritage and religion.
On the face of it, the characters all have a reasonably high standard of living, but Umrigar scratches the surface to guide us to the real hearts of the characters.
The starting point for this exploration is the tale end of a wedding reception for the son of one of the couples, when the only guests left are those that have grown old together. The groom, Mehernosh, has grown up in the company of all the favoured guests, and has surprised most of them by returning to Bombay after studying law in the US. Each successive chapter concentrates on one or two of the reception guests, and reflects upon formative incidents in their lives. These incidents may have left them physically or mentally scarred, but all have grown through their pain into new more fully-fledged people.
For the final two characters, all the characters are brought together to share joy and fleeting pain, and all again finish the evening wiser than they started. Although very much in the background, the city of Bombay too develops its character as the novel progresses.
Umrigar writes beautifully and sensitively, and I recommend highly this delicate and thoughtful novel.
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