April 2009 Indie Next List
“Frank and Ellie Benton move from Michigan to India in an effort to recover after the tragic death of their son. When Frank begins tutoring the son of their housekeeper, he sets in motion events that strain relationships and lead to a startling conclusion. This beautifully written book, set in Girbaug, India, is a contrast in cultures as well as a study in human grief and loss.”
— Gayle Wingerter, Inklings Bookshop, Yakima, WA
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. But an unexpected job half a world away offers them an opportunity to start again. Life in Girbaug, India, holds promise—and peril—when Frank befriends Ramesh, a bright, curious boy who quickly becomes the focus of the grieving man's attentions. Haunted by memories of his dead son, Frank is consumed with making his family right—a quest that will lead him down an ever-darkening path with stark repercussions.
Filled with satisfyingly real characters and glowing with local color, The Weight of Heaven is a rare glimpse of a family and a country struggling under pressures beyond their control. In a devastating look at cultural clashes and divides, Umrigar illuminates how slowly we recover from unforgettable loss, how easily good intentions can turn evil, and how far a person will go to build a new world for those he loves.
About the Author
Thrity Umrigar is the author of five other novels The World We Found, The Weight of Heaven, The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet, and Bombay Time and the memoir First Darling of the Morning. An award-winning journalist, she has been a contributor to the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Huffington Post, among other publications. She is the winner of the Nieman Fellowship to Harvard, Cleveland Arts Prize, and Seth Rosenberg Prize, and is the Armington Professor of English at Case-Western Reserve University.
“Umrigar beautifully illuminates how human relationships are complicated by cultural, geographical, and class divides.”