Summer Reading 2013
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Summer reading for 2013 is The Space Between Us, by Thrity Umrigar.
About the book
The Space Between Us is a novel that traces the parallel lives and complicated relationship of Sera Dubash, an upper-middle-class housewife, and Bhima Gopal, her downtrodden, illiterate servant. Sera, a widow who endured abuse in her married life, lives with her pregnant daughter and son-in-law in modern Bombay. Bhima, abandoned by a husband who absconded with the couple’s only son, lives in a slum with her pregnant seventeen-year-old granddaughter. Employer and servant form a bond made all the stronger by shared domestic routine, shared heartbreak, and shared hope for their progeny. But while the two women enjoy daily tea and conversation together, Sera sits at a table while Bhima squats on the floor. Convention and bigotry work against the women’s friendship constantly. Divided by class, money, religion, geography, and politics, the two women manage for decades to prevail in a friendship that overcomes the odds until competing family interests ultimately test the limit of their bond.
As a novel about what the publisher calls “Indian apartheid,” Umrigar’s book raises questions about apartheid in general and forces us to confront our own biases and prejudices. It questions the degree to which there is goodness and grace in human relationships, and it forces us to reimagine what it means to be heroic.
While it follows the lives of Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims, The Space Between Us speaks strongly to the Lutheran tradition and asks us to contemplate several contradictions: intimacy and distance, constraint and freedom, awareness and ignorance. “At its most basic,” says Umrigar, “The Space Between Us is a book about what brings us together and what divides us as human beings.”
As a novel about moving outside of your comfort zone and entering new emotional spaces, this is a powerful work with which to welcome new students at orientation, when they will meet with their Paideia section to discuss the questions raised by The Space Between Us. In addition, Umrigar will be the 2013 convocation speaker, and we anticipate great conversations arising from our communal read of this work.
Want to know more?
- Read reviews of the book.
- Paideia Fall 2013 Summer Reading Guide (906 KB PDF Document)2013 Summer Reading Guide