Bombay Time by Thrity Umrigar

Posted: February 23, 2010 in Reviews, South Asian Author Challenge

I talked about a Thrity Umrigar book a few days back and today I am back,  to rave about her book  Bombay Time. Some of you might  know why this book is so special to me. I am a Mumbaikar and devour any book which mentions my city and it’s beauty. Umrigar puts my city in the title. How could I resist this book?

This time she chronicles the life of  Parsi families of Wadia Baug.It has multiple story lines where we get to meet a host of characters of various natures who form this seemingly close knit affluent community. Each one has a story hidden somewhere which more or less explains their individual out look towards life.

She uses  marriage as a tool to bring these people together and takes us through their lives and gives us a glimpse into Parsi customs and their lifestyle . Each time a character is depicted ,Mumbai or the then Bombay is shown in the background. The changes the city has gone through having accommodated and adjusted  while bringing about some good and bad changes in the outlook of  its oldest settled communities is done so well that I felt I was watching this happen rather than reading it.

While reading this book , Jimmy Kanga , Coomi Bilimoria , Tehmi , Dosa Popat and most importantly Rusi were not just mere characters on the pages of a book , they each talked and I am sure every person who has read this book felt the same way.  I could call it a set of short stories but then they are all connected . Umrigar ties knot in a way only she can.

The prose was absolutely beautiful.  No two thoughts about that.Any body who enjoys contemporary fiction will love this book. There is a bit of vernacular used but that I thought added to the charm of story telling.I haven’t let out the story to you because the beauty lies in the discovery . You will  enjoy it more if you don’t know before hand what each one of these characters has to tell you.

P.S. – Airport bookstore was the place where I found this one. The last place I thought I would find a book like this. They usually stock mysteries and racy edgy bestsellers. It was their last copy and I am glad I got it. Some books are meant to found by readers who will enjoy them ;)

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Comments
  1. Veens says:

    I totally want to read this author! Everyone seems to be raving about her!!
    I am sure I will get a copy of this or the other one you posted soon :)

  2. Sounds like a great book. I can relate, anything that has my city in the story makes me want to read it as well. Glad you found it!

  3. sumanam says:

    I would love to read this book.. I know my local library won’t have any Indian authors, but Iam hoping the Los Angeles one (it’s huge) would have…
    Thanks, for such an wonderful review..

    • docshona says:

      Oh that’s sad. Couldn’t you ask for a interlibrary loan. Btw author is settled in US ,she just started out in India.Her books are published in US itself. Check , your lib might have them.

      • sumanam says:

        I can ask for loan , they actually do that, but since it’s different county (like districts in India)it takes a long time , it’s easier for me to go to lA one day and pick up, anyway I go their for Indian groceries every 15days :)

  4. She says:

    Your enthusiasm has definitely convinced me! I like the cover too ;p

  5. Shakil says:

    All Umrigar’s books are great. I like the others much better than Bombay Time. She’s really grown as an author. For a more visual take on Mumbai’s Parsi community, check out Sooni Taraporevala’s book PARSIS: the Zoroastrians of India – a Photographic Journey. It’s a great photography book by Taraporevala, the famous screenwriter (Salaam Bombay, Mississippi Masala, The Namesake), who is also a photographer. A great additoin to any book with Parsi characters.