Readers will find themselves completely immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of India ... a multifaceted examination of Smita’s love-hate relationship with her native country, a place that fills her heart yet is besieged with assaults on women ... a well-rounded portrait of a complicated country ... the blend of passion alongside brutality sometimes makes for an uneasy mix. Nonetheless, readers are likely to remain engaged with the story and its well-drawn characters. Whether she’s writing about the bright lights of Mumbai or the poverty of village life, Umrigar excels at creating engaging situations and scenes. Readers will appreciate this novel’s deep understanding of the many complexities of Indian society.
As with the fictional article that begins the book, Umrigar’s strength as a writer is most potent in individual scenes that distill these tensions. Just as the arc of the story builds to a crescendo, both in its hastening action surrounding the trial of Meena’s brothers and the reader’s understanding of Smita’s history, so do smaller moments ... The many layers that comprise 'Honor' unfurl like a peak season peony ... [a] beautiful conclusion.
Umrigar aptly tackles honor killings in rural India and paints Meena with agency and depth ... a stirring critique of individual agendas surrounding Meena's high-profile case ... In her years of reporting on gender violence around the world, Smita takes care to avoid the kind of 'trauma porn' typical of such articles. Curiously, in the book, Umrigar pens a gruesome scene that feels close to fetishizing female victimization. It neither fortifies the narrative nor deepens the reader's understanding of the cultural context of such violence. Less would have definitely been more ... Nevertheless, Honor boldly examines a system that continues to greenlight brutality and serves as a poignant reminder that despite all odds, 'in every country, in every crisis, there are a handful of people who will stand against the tide.'