The Museum of Failures

A Novel


By Thrity Umrigar

Formats and Prices




$17.99 CAD

From the bestselling author of The Space Between Us comes a powerful story about family secrets, a mother's power, and the importance of forgiveness.

When Remy Wadia left India for the United States, he carried his resentment of his cold and inscrutable mother with him and has kept his distance from her. Years later, he returns to Bombay, planning to adopt a baby from a young pregnant girl—and to see his elderly mother again before it is too late. She is in the hospital, has stopped talking, and seems to have given up on life.

Struck with guilt for not realizing just how ill she had become, Remy devotes himself to helping her recover and return home. But one day in her apartment he comes upon an old photograph that demands explanation. As shocking family secrets surface, Remy finds himself reevaluating his entire childhood and his relationship to his parents, just as he is on the cusp of becoming a parent himself. Can Remy learn to forgive others for their human frailties, or is he too wedded to his sorrow and anger over his parents’ long-ago decisions?

Surprising, devastating, and ultimately a story of redemption and healing still possible between a mother and son, The Museum of Failures is a tour de force from one of our most elegant storytellers about the mixed bag of love and regret. It is also, above all, a much-needed reminder that forgiveness comes from empathy for others.

  • "Family secrets are constellations made of falling stars. When scattered across the vast expanse of our lives, they lead us, guide us, but often in the wrong direction. With Thrity Umrigar’s signature blend of emotional depth and compassionate storytelling, The Museum of Failures is a poignant and profound exploration of what happens when someone’s entire life, their entire journey, has been spent off-course. I feel this book. You will too."
    Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of The Many Daughters of Afong Moy
  • “There's no powder keg like a family secret. And when it explodes, nothing in the past is ever as it was, and nothing in the future is ever the same. The Museum of Failures is a symphony of secrets and lies, love and hate, regret and forgiveness, but more than that, the unraveling of everything one holds dear to find something more precious and elusive: oneself. Powerful and engrossing.”

    Marlon James Booker Prize winning Author of Moon Witch, Spider King
  • Named a Best Book of 2023 by NPR, Harper's BazaarBookRiotChristian Science Monitor & more.

    Named a Most Anticipated Book of Fall/2023 by PEOPLE Magazine, Amazon, Goodreads, Ms., We Are Bookish, SheReads, Christian Science Monitor, Literary Hub, BookBub, Book Bistro, & more.
  • "Wrenching and uplifting, lighthearted and profound, The Museum of Failures is a suspenseful, beautifully plotted tribute to the complicated yet steadfast love between parents and children."

    Megha Majumdar, author of A Burning
  • "The Museum of Failures is a compassionate and insightful exploration of judgment, forgiveness, and understanding. A skilled chronicler of family secrets, Thrity Umrigar reveals the reverberation that decisions can have over generations and the impact of distance, both geographical and psychological, on the relationship of one mother and son."

    Lisa Ko, author of National Book Award finalist The Leavers
  • “Remy grapples with his notions of home, devastating family secrets and impending fatherhood in this emotional novel from the bestselling author of Honor.”
    PEOPLE Magazine
  • “This is a beautifully wrought novel about the complicated relationships between parents and children, the secrets we keep — and those we reveal.”
  • “An expert storyteller, Thirty Umrigar knows how to weave a tale of family secrets, relationships, tradition and acceptance. Layered and captivating.”
  • “This meditation on forgiveness is a deeply moving, human story that shows that love is neither straightforward nor linear and that the decisions we make can reverberate for generations if we’re not willing to unpack our familial lives with tact, kid gloves and honesty.”
    Cleveland Plain Dealer
  • “Thrity Umrigar’s evocative novel explores the personal, political, and cultural reckonings of an immigrant son discovering compassion and forgiveness.”
    Christian Science Monitor, "The best reads of 2023"
  • “Instructive as well as moving… As she captures the anguish of people torn between two worlds, Umrigar’s own writing takes on a cinematic brilliance.”
  • "Deep and meaningful, The Museum of Failures challenges us to examine our own relationships with home and family, acknowledging our pain and creating a future that tells a new story."
  • “[A]n emotionally relevant story about family, class, and culture. It is no secret that Umrigar has a knack for layering thematically complex structures and realistic characters, but in The Museum of Failures we see this delivered ten-fold.”
    Southern Review of Books
  • "A beautifully written, heart-warming, and welcoming glimpse into the Parsi community and the complications of family.”
    Jessica Trotter, Capital Area District Libraries, Mich., Shelf Awareness
  • “Immersive, intimate, and deeply felt, Thrity Umrigar’s The Museum of Failures explores the power of forgiveness and the eternal possibility of new beginnings.”
    PEN America / The PEN 10
  • "A powerful family drama.”
    Akron Beacon Journal
  • “Thrity Umrigar’s novels are immersive, and I felt transported to Bombay throughout the novel. Her vivid descriptions of the city and its inhabitants brought the setting to life… This novel emphasizes the importance of love, acceptance and sacrifice. A very heartfelt read!”
    Los Angeles Book Review
  • "This book has the power to break and make you, in equal measure, an ode to Thrity Umrigar’s calibre."
  • “The story of the Wadia family is a sensitive exploration of love in its different forms—romantic, maternal, filial, platonic—and forgiveness. Umrigar’s fluid prose and well-wrought characters capture the milieu of the Parsi community past and present. Paired with the emotionally demanding story line, this is a compelling read.”
  • “[Umrigar] creates interesting characters and complex relationships, builds thematic tension and narrative suspense, and delivers emotionally resonant moments at just the right pace… [A] rich, heartfelt novel. This is a touching story about what it really means to grow up and into an authentic life.”
    Kirkus Reviews
  • “[A] rich and emotionally gripping story about familial love and the destructive power of secrets... Umrigar continues to impress.”
    Publishers Weekly
  • “[A] powerful novel of family and secrets.”
    Largehearted Boy
  • “An excellent example of Thrity Umrigar’s strengths as a novelist. Overall, the novel is classic Umrigar and will undoubtedly be enjoyed by her fans.”
    International Examiner

On Sale
Sep 26, 2023
Page Count
368 pages
Algonquin Books

Thrity Umrigar

About the Author

Thrity Umrigar is the bestselling author of nine previous novels, including Honor, which was a Reese's Book Club Pick, as well as three picture books and a memoir. Her books have been published in over fifteen countries and in several languages. A former journalist, she has contributed to the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and other newspapers.  She is a recipient of the Nieman Fellowship to Harvard, and winner of the Cleveland Arts Prize, the Seth Rosenberg prize and a Lambda Literary award.  She is currently a Distinguished University Professor of English at Case Western Reserve University.

Learn more about this author