Late afternoon sun sneaks through the windows of a passport and visa office in an unnamed American city. Most customers and even most office workers have come and gone, but nine people remain. A punky teenager with an unexpected gift. An upper-class Caucasian couple whose relationship is disintegrating. A young Muslim-American man struggling with the fallout of 9/11. A graduate student haunted by a question about love. An African-American ex-soldier searching for redemption. A Chinese grandmother with a secret past. And two visa office workers on the verge of an adulterous affair.
When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping these nine characters together, their focus first jolts to their collective struggle to survive. There's little food. The office begins to flood. Then, at a moment when the psychological and emotional stress seems nearly too much for them to bear, the young graduate student suggests that each tell a personal tale, "one amazing thing" from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. And as their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval, and self-discovery unfold against the urgency of their life-or-death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself.
"A storyteller of exquisite lyricism an compassion, Divakaruni weaves a suspenseful, astute, and unforgettable survivors' tale." - Booklist
"Despite moments of brilliance, this uneven novel, while vigorously plumbing themes of class struggle, disillusionment, and guilt, disappoints with careless and unearned epiphanies." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. Writing with great sensitivity, Divarkaruni presents snapshots that speak volumes about the characters, so unexpectedly drawn together. Highly recommended." - Library Journal
"Compassionate stories, many of them inspired, suspended in half of a novel." - Kirkus Reviews
"One Amazing Thing collapses the walls dividing characters and cultures; what endures is a chorus of voices in one single room." - Jhumpa Lahiri, author of Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake
"I was up very late. I read straight through because this is the sort of book that pulls you along. Divakaruni is so adept with her characterizations...I wanted to be in any of the beauty salons described so lovingly. I wanted to eat the bits of food described with such delicacy." - Louise Erdrich, author of Love Medicine and A Plague of Doves
"Ingeniously conceived and intelligently written, this novel is a fable for our time. The characters, troubled or shattered by their past, vibrate with life whenever they begin to speak. The book is a fun read from the first page to the last." - Ha Jin, author of A Free Life and the National Book Award-winning Waiting
"Chitra Divakaruni understands the power of stories to heal us, make us laugh, and comfort us in the most difficult of circumstances. One Amazing Thing is one powerful and beautifully written book. I loved it, and I'm sure that readers everywhere will embrace it too." - Lisa See, author of Shanghai Girls
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Rated of 5
This book was too short. Just as you were getting to know the people the book was over. I felt like I was part of this group and wondered what my story would be. I would recommend to anyone who likes people of diversity.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author and poet. Her work is
widely known, as she 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. Her works have been translated into 13
languages, including Dutch, Hebrew and Japanese.
She was born in India and lived there until 1976, at which point she left Calcutta and came to the United States. She continued her education in the field of English by receiving a Masters degree from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.
To earn money for her education, she held many odd jobs, including babysitting, selling merchandise in an Indian boutique, slicing bread in...
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