I was first introduced to Dr. Thrity Umrigar’s work last spring when she and I both had the honor of having pieces we wrote performed in Lit Cleveland’s staged reading, Crossing Borders: Immigrant Narratives, a part of Cleveland State University’s Cleveland Humanities Festival.
Intrigued to discover that my local writing community included a writer of her caliber, I ordered her latest novel, EVERYBODY’S SON. Umrigar’s book is a complex and fascinating tale about race, privilege, morality, and love that completely absorbed me in the reading and lingered in my memory long after I put EVERYBODY’S SON down. I am ecstatic to be able to introduce our Debutante Ball community to this timely and poignant novel and the woman who wrote it.
About EVERYBODY’S SON:
During a terrible heat wave in 1991—the worst in a decade—ten-year-old Anton has been locked in an apartment in the projects, alone, for seven days, without air conditioning or a fan. With no electricity, the refrigerator and lights do not work. Hot, hungry, and desperate, Anton shatters a window and climbs out. Cutting his leg on the broken glass, he is covered in blood when the police find him.
Juanita, his mother, is discovered in a crack house less than three blocks away, nearly unconscious and half-naked. When she comes to, she repeatedly asks for her baby boy. She never meant to leave Anton—she went out for a quick hit and was headed right back, until her drug dealer raped her and kept her high. Though the bond between mother and son is extremely strong, Anton is placed with child services while Juanita goes to jail.
The Harvard-educated son of a US senator, Judge David Coleman is a scion of northeastern white privilege. Desperate to have a child in the house again after the tragic death of his teenage son, David uses his power and connections to keep his new foster son, Anton, with him and his wife, Delores—actions that will have devastating consequences in the years to come.
Following in his adopted family’s footsteps, Anton, too, rises within the establishment. But when he discovers the truth about his life, his birth mother, and his adopted parents, this man of the law must come to terms with the moral complexities of crimes committed by the people he loves most. (copy courtesy of the author’s site.)
— The Debutante Ball (@DebutanteBall) November 4, 2017
Virtual interview with Thrity Umrigar:
Where do you love to be?
Without a doubt, at the ocean. Nothing makes me feel more free and happy than being at the ocean. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that my birth city, Bombay, is by the water.
What’s your secret superpower?
I think it’s my ability to see the beauty and miraculousness of everyday objects. I don’t need for something to be rare, like a diamond, to see the glory in it. I am perfect content rhapsodizing about an ordinary stone or rock.
If you were an alcoholic drink what would you be?
Most likely a margarita because it’s salty and sweet and sour—in other words, it’s a complex drink and I think I enjoy being a complicated and complex human being.
What’s your next big thing?
After ten years of laughing and saying I’d never write a sequel to any of my novels, I am currently writing a sequel to The Space Between Us. It’s called The Secrets Between Us and it will be published next year. It continues Bhima’s story but also introduces a new character, who I hope readers will embrace much as they embraced Bhima.
What’s the biggest perk of your job?
Hands down it’s the ability to touch the lives of my readers, to maybe even illuminate their own lives for them a little bit, so that they are left with a little bit more understanding and compassion and empathy for the people in their lives.
Thrity Umrigar is the best-selling author of the novels Bombay Time, The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet, The Weight of Heaven, The World We Found and The Story Hour. She is also the author of the memoir, First Darling of the Morning. Her books have been translated into several languages and published in over fifteen countries. She is the Armington Professor of English at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
Find her on the web: