Book Review: Honor by Thrity Umrigar

Today is my blog tour stop for this hard-hitting, searing work of fiction that sadly reflects reality. Thank you, Algonquin Books for having me on this tour, and thank you, Thrity Umrigar, for writing it!

TW// Rape, sexual violence, violence, murder, death, sexism.

Honor is about two women, Smita and Meena, whose lives become so intricately intertwined that after a while, it becomes difficult to point out where one story starts and where the other ends.

Smita, an America-based journalist, is called to Mumbai to cover the story of a burn victim because her colleague is unwell. Coming to Mumbai is going to open old wounds and bring her secrets spilling out, but she figures Meena’s story is an important one to tell. Meena, who married a Muslim man, and was promptly disowned by her Hindu family. Meena, whose house was set on fire by her own brothers for ‘tarnishing’ their family name by marrying a Muslim man and whose husband died in that fire. Meena, whose case has now been taken up by a lawyer who wants to bring justice to her, but is that the lawyer’s intention?

When Smita begins work on this story, little does she know how all of this is going to affect her. Little does she know how her life is going to change in so many ways, that she just cannot count and comprehend.


Thrity Umrigar’s ‘Honor’ is a searing story of honor killings, religious fundamentalism and extremism, and the worst of humanity. It was my first book of 2022 and reading it has broken something inside of me. Every time I read a book like this, I lose faith in humanity because I know that the extent of these barbarisms isn’t fictionalized. And I gag on my own runaway thoughts, the what-ifs, the whys, the hows. The hypocrisy, the utter assholery of men trying to act like God wrote the bloody, violent rules that they think they need to act upon. Of them saying that women need to serve them because God willed them to be. Of them disowning women for working. Of them slapping, raping, burning, killing women for ‘dishonoring’ them by loving someone from a different religion.

Who the heck gave them the right to do that? Where does this god complex come from? How do they figure themselves to be at the top of the pecking order? Who gave them the right to oppress women? Just men, thousands of years ago, who were so full of themselves that they thought it right to filter down these thoughts through millennia and generations. It’s extremely frustrating and angering.

‘Honor’ is a book that will raise all these questions and will anger you to no end. Thrity Umrigar’s writing is pregnant with horror as it describes the barbarian behavior of men in the name of religion that makes you want to claw at their faces, to slap them. But they are blinded by their faith, their religion. They rape, kill, and dishonor women, all in the name of honor. And irony dies a few million deaths every day.

Thank you, Thrity Umrigar, for writing this important book, for your firebrand writing, for the unapologetically frank descriptions, and for tackling this subject with such sensitivity.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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