Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award‑winning author, poet and teacher. Her themes include women, immigration, the South Asian experience, history, myth, magical realism and diversity. Her website states that she writes for adults and children. Her books have been translated into 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Russian and Japanese. Two novels, The Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart, have been made into films. Her short stories, Arranged Marriage, won an American Book Award.
Born in Kolkata, India, Divakaruni holds a Master's degree in English from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Divakaruni teaches in the nationally ranked Creative Writing program at the University of Houston and has just released her newest book, Oleander Girl.
Much of Divakaruni's work deals with the immigrant experience, an important theme in the mosaic of American society. Her book Arranged Marriage, winner of an American Book Award, is a collection of short stories about women from India caught between two worlds. In The Mistress of Spices, named one of the best books of the 20th Century by the San Francisco Chronicle, the heroine Tilo provides spices, not only for cooking, but also for the homesickness and alienation that the Indian immigrants in her shop experience. In Sister of My Heart, two cousins‑one in America, the other in India, share details of their lives with each other and help each other solve problems that threaten their marriages. In One Amazing Thing, a group of strangers of varied backgrounds, trapped by an earthquake in an Indian visa office, discover what they have in common as they struggle to save themselves. Divakaruni writes to unite people. Her aim is to destroy myths and stereotypes. She hopes through her writing to dissolve boundaries between people of different backgrounds, communities and ages.
Before she began her career in writing fiction, Divakaruni was an acclaimed poet. She writes poems encompassing a wide variety of themes, and she once again directs much of her focus to the immigrant experience and to South Asian women. She shows the experiences and struggles involved in women trying to find their own identities. Poems from Divakaruni's latest collection, Leaving Yuba City, won a Pushcart Prize, an Allen Ginsberg Prize and a Gerbode Foundation award.