13 Mar / The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar [in Bloomsbury Review]
Frank and Ellie Benton have had the unthinkable happen to them: their precious 7-year-old son has died of a sudden illness. Even while Ellie is wracked with guilt, Frank blames her for what he believes was her negligence in not taking him to the hospital quickly enough. Their once perfect love story erodes irreparably, and in a desperate effort to forget and escape, Frank takes the opportunity for a fresh start and moves the couple to a small town in India to work for a division of his American employer there.
Almost immediately, Frank develops a special relationship with the bright, promising 9-year-old son of the couple’s uneducated house servants. His management job challenges him culturally – and morally. Ellie goes to work for a local organization that empowers women and finds a welcoming community. But their new life is not balm enough for their overwhelming grief and their emotional estrangement threatens to destroy what’s left of their relationship forever.
Tidbit: Thrity Umrigar was a guest at SALTAF 2007 (South Asian Literary and Theater Arts Festival), a much-anticipated, highly-attended annual fall event sponsored by the Smithsonian APA Program and NetSAP-DC.