Thrity Umrigar and The World We Found
by Tif Sweeney, Walrus Contributor
Thrity Umrigar, author of multiple novels, including The Weight of Heaven and The Space Between Us, arrived at the Saint Louis County Library Headquarters to a packed house of fans on January 18 to chat about her latest release, The World We Found. She started the evening with a brief synopsis of the story, followed by a couple of readings from a different character views.
Many of Umrigar’s novels are set in her home country of India, and she spoke extensively about the creation of her characters. For example, she does not like to create her characters according to stereotypes, but rather paints them with a broader stroke, creating more a caricature instead of a character. She also spoke to identifying her own characteristics or experiences in her characters–if she is unable to understand her characters, how can she ask her readers to?
Umrigar also shared her personal writing process. She admits to spending less time at the computer than one would expect. Instead, she spends more of her time thinking and working out the characters during long showers, commuting in the car, and taking walks.
During her question and answer session, many questions centered around the topic of culture, and her experiences being so enmeshed in both American and Indian cultures during different times in her life. Her honesty was refreshing as she shared her thoughts on culture shock when moving to American and her travels since. Her response was that her largest shock was the lack thereof. Being raised in a more Westernized home, she was surprised at how few differences there were when she left India. She personally has come to believe that the middle class around the world actually has more in common than differences exist.
And, my personal favorite Q&A of the night —
Q: Do you consider yourself an Indian writer from America or an American writer from India?
A: Who cares?!
Umrigar writes from where she knows, but hopes that her stories are about things that are eternally true and that the story becomes more than just a setting. I cannot wait to dive into the eternal truth in The World We Found.
For more information on the author and her books, visit the Thrity Umrigar website.