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.
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.
Thrity Umrigar s The Weight of Heaven straddles the United States and India as Frank and Ellie, a grieving American couple, relocate in the hope of healing the trauma of their only child's death. Frank takes a position managing a factory in a small Indian town, and at first the move seems like the right one. Ellie feels at home in her adopted country, helping out in the village, teaching school and counseling women. But the company that owns the factory has leased the village s trees from the Indian government and has prohibited the villagers from accessing what had been a source of medicine, shelter, and income for generations. Frank becomes the face of the company pillaging the village s land, and violence follows him. Seeking solace, he turns to his servants child, who he tries to shoehorn into the empty space left by his son's loss. Rather than a fresh start, India soon becomes just a different setting for Frank and Ellie to splinter apart. We follow their breakdown moment-by-moment, like a slow-motion death spiral. Umrigar does seem to pull up, finding a lighter note as Ellie befriends former investigative journalist Nandita. Their friendship provides welcome air for both Ellie and the reader, but by its last quarter, the novel has set its course for tragedy. The drama centered around the factory proves a distraction from the story of Ellie and Nandita who, after following a once-unquestionable path -- college, successful career, rewarding marriage -- are left with an emptiness in their lives that neither woman seems interested in filling. This delicate and far more compelling story is overrun by the tale of rage, obsession, and misery that dominates the rest of the novel. --Melissa Lion