Author Profile

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning and bestselling author, poet, activist and teacher of writing. Her work has been published in over 50 magazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker, and her writing has been included in over 50 anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Prize Stories and the Pushcart Prize Anthology.

Chitra is the author of over a dozen books, the most recent of which is Oleander Girl (2013) which was awarded the 2015 Premio Scanno in Literature. The story follows an Indian woman who is engaged to be married when she discovers a family secret. At a crucial turning point, she makes the decision to immigrate to America and start a new life. Her forthcoming novel-in-stories, Before We Visit the Goddess (April 2016), are beautifully wrought tales of love, longing and loneliness.

Chitra's other novels include One Amazing Thing (2010), Shadowland (2009), Palace of Illusions (2008), and Queen of Dreams (2004). Her books have been translated into 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Bengali, Russian and Japanese, and many of them have been used for campus-wide and city-wide reads. Several of her works have been made into films and plays. She lives in Houston with her husband Murthy and has two sons, Anand and Abhay, who are in college. 

Some fun facts: While going to grad school, in order to make money to pay her tuition fees, she worked at a number of odd jobs – slicing bread in a bakery, babysitting, washing instruments in a biology lab (Lots of blood!), and working in the kitchen at the International House at UC Berkeley, where she was going to school. There, on good days, she was allowed to serve desserts. If the manager was unhappy with her, she banished her to the dish room.

 


"The highlight of this year's One Book, One Community of Monroe was definitely a visit from the author of One Amazing Thing, Chitra Divakaruni. She was a warm and engaging speaker to audiences both large and small. In her presentations, Chitra not only addressed the major themes of the novel, but generously offered practical suggestions for writers. The enthusiastic response from our community was overwhelming. We were especially fortunate to have Chitra visit the same week that her new novel, Oleander Girl was released, so we also enjoyed hearing the author read from the opening chapter. Anyone planning a community read should consider the work of Chitra Divakaruni. She is in a word, Amazing."
-- Cheryl Johnston, co-chair of One Book, One Community, Monroe, MI, Common Reads Committee

"The 2012 selection of Chitra Divakaruni's One Amazing Thing as the One Book One Community title in Alliance couldn't have been a better choice. Chitra's remarkable and readable story about nine characters trapped in a collapsed building provided us with many opportunities for programs such as storytelling, local disaster preparedness, and learning about Indian culture through food and dance. Her visit to Alliance to speak to residents and middle and high school students went beyond the committee's expectations. She was an excellent presenter who demonstrated strength and wisdom in her thoughtful remarks and answers to the myriad questions asked of her. Chitra won everyone over with her own storytelling and by taking time to talk to the students eager to meet her."
-- Pat Stone, Chair, One Book One Community, Alliance, Ohio

"Our students, and colleagues, from several disciplines truly appreciated Divakaruni's time on campus, from class visits and discussion sessions to readings from her work, all with attention to the interconnections of life experiences and imagination. Bringing together present-day issues with literary and cultural legacies, she brought the presence of mind of a writer engaged in her craft, rather than an author on tour. "
-- Brad E. Lucas, Chair, Department of English, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX

"We recently had the pleasure of featuring Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni at the Literary Southwest series at Yavapai College. In the seven years I've been hosting the series I haven't seen our audience respond so well to an author. Almost everyone stayed for the "Open Conversation" portion of the program and the book signing line was the longest ever. Obviously, people wanted more of Chitra after hearing her read selections from her wonderful prose and poetry. Throughout the evening, she was captivating and entertaining, lovely and gracious, not to mention totally insightful in her comments on writing process and craft. The email raves started coming in before I even got home that night! It was wonderful to see the inspirational power of literature and Chitra's words at work."
-- Jim Natal, Series Director, The Literary Southwest, Yavapai College, Prescott, AZ

"We chose One Amazing Thing as our All Henrico Reads featured title in 2016. This was our eighth annual author event. Chitra met with over 700 students in the morning and well over 800 people at the public evening event. We found that One Amazing Thing is a great novel for a community read because it includes so many different perspectives and provides so many opportunities for discussion. It is also a great choice for all ages - our high school students created an art installation in the form of a literary table setting within the scene of the book. Chitra is a warm and funny presenter and was quick on her feet during both Q&A sessions. Both student and adult audiences were very engaged, and often laughing, during her talk. We received nothing but glowing comments on our event survey responses. Both the novel and Chitra's fantastic stage presence made our 2016 All Henrico Reads event very successful. More than one person approached me to say it was a magical evening. "
-- Kara Roth, Henrico Reads



For more about Chitra and her works, go to http://www.chitradivakaruni.com

Reviews of Oleander Girl

An entrancing storyteller with an unerring moral compass, Divakaruni has created a superbly well-plotted, charming, yet hard-hitting novel of family, marriage, and class, a veritable Indian Jane Austen novel spiked with racial prejudice and religious violence. . . . From baneful secrets, poisonous misunderstandings and conflicts, and transcendent love, Divakaruni has forged another tender, wise, and resonant page-turner.
-- Booklist, Starred Review

Exploring the United States and India in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Divakaruni has crafted a beautiful, complex story in which caste, class, religion, and race are significant factors informing people's world views.
-- Library Journal, Starred Review

Reviews of One Amazing Thing

A wise and beautifully refined drama... The [characterss] tales of heartbreak and revelation are nuanced and riveting as Divakaruni takes fresh measure of the transcendent power of stories and the pilgrimage tradition. True, the nine [characters] are captives of disaster, but they are also pilgrims of the spirit, seeking "one amazing thing," affirming that life, for all its pain, is miraculous. A storyteller of exquisite lyricism and compassion, Divakaruni weaves a suspenseful, astute, and unforgettable survivors' tale.
-- Donna Seaman, Booklist

Writing with great sensitivity, Divakaruni presents snapshots that speak volumes about the characters, so unexpectedly drawn together. Highly recommended.
-- Library Journal

Hauntingly beautiful. . . .  One Amazing Thing is a page-turner with high drama, elegant writing, and lots of helpful tips for teamwork in a crisis.
-- Maggie Galehouse, Houston Chronicle

This storytelling legacy shines brightly in her entrancing new novel, One Amazing Thing... Divakaruni moves effortlessly from one character to another, and across a spectrum of raw feeling: panic; pain; antagonism; selfishness. She reveals intimate details and sensual reactions so vivid you feel as if you're with each of them in the room. ...Trapped strangers are transformed into a chorus of Scheherazades, offering up tales of loss and love, and betrayal and redemption, to illuminate the gathering darkness.
-- Jane Ciabattari, NPR, Books We Like



Videos featuring Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Oleander Girl by Chitra BanerjeeDivakaruni






TED Talk by Chitra Divakaruni






Chitra Divakaruni - Authors @ Google






One Book 2012: 'One Amazing Thing' with author Chitra Divakaruni