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 a bakery, and washing instruments in a science lab. At Berkeley, she lived in the International House and worked in the dining hall. She briefly lived in Illinois, Ohio and Texas, but has spent most of her life in Northern California, which she often writes about.
Divakaruni currently teaches in the nationally ranked Creative Writing program at the Univ. of Houston. She serves on the board of Maitri in the San Freancisco Bay Area and on the Advisory Board of Daya in Houston. Both these are organizations that help South Asian or South Asian American women who find themselves in abusive or domestic violence situations. She is also on the board of Pratham, an organization that helps educate children (especially those living in urban slums) in India.
Divakaruni has judged several prestigious awards, such as the National Book Award and the PEN Faulkner Award.
Two of her books, The Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart, have been made into movies by filmmakers Gurinder Chadha (and Paul Berges (an English film) and Suhasini Mani Ratnam (a Tamil TV serial) respectively.
Divakaruni lives in Houston with her husband Murthy, her two sons Anand and Abhay (whose names she has used in her childrens novels) and Juno, the family dog.
This biography was last updated on 08/10/2011.
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Chitra Divakaruni explains how her family, her childhood and the stories she was told have all influenced her writing.
When I was a child in India, my grandfather would tell me stories from the
Ramayan and Mahabharat, the ancient Indian epics. I loved to hear
about the wondrous exploits of divine warrior heroes such as Ram and Krishna,
and the magical weapons--the enormous bow, the fiery discus--with which they
destroyed evil kings and demons. There were human heroes too--the prince Arjun,
the greatest archer in the world and Krishna's best friend; Guha, the tribal
chieftain who loved Ram with all his heart. Their friendships--unselfish,
devoted, noble--were meant to inspire us to similar emotions.
Even more than the men, I loved the great women of the epics. There was Ram's wife Sita, who gave up the pleasures of the palace to follow her exiled husband to the forest. There was Draupadi, who exacted a terrible vengeance for the humiliation she had to suffer at the hands of her husband's enemies. There was Queen Kunti, who could call down gods to father her children. There was Shabari, whose entire life was illuminated by her faith in Ram. Interestingly, unlike the male heroes, the main ...
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