|Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
||Novelist, professor, poet, essayist, short story writer, author, fiction writer, nonfiction writer, children's fiction writer, young adult fiction writer, book reviewer, columnist, activist, mother
||India, United States
||poetry, short stories, novels; fantasy, young adult, magical realism, historical fiction
||Leaving Yuba City; Arranged Marriage; The Mistress of Spices; Sister of My Heart; Palace of Illusions; Conch Bearer.
||Ginsberg Poetry Prize; Pushcart Prize; LA Times Best Books of 1997; American Book Award; PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award; South Asian Literary Association Distinguished Author Award
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (born Chitralekha Banerjee, 1956 - ) is an Indian-American author, poet, and the Betty and Gene McDavid Professor of Writing at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program.
Her short story collection, Arranged Marriage, won an American Book Award in 1995, and two of her novels (The Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart) were adapted into films. Mistress of Spices was short-listed for the Orange Prize.
Divakaruni's works are largely set in India and the United States, and often focus on the experiences of South Asian immigrants. She writes for children as well as adults and has published novels in multiple genres, including realistic fiction, historical fiction, magical realism, and fantasy.
Chitralekha Banerjee Divakaruni was born in Kolkata (Calcutta), India. She received her B.A. from the University of Calcutta in 1976. That same year, she went to the United States to attend Wright State University where she received a master's degree. She received a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1985 (Christopher Marlowe was the subject of her doctoral dissertation).
Divakaruni put herself through graduate school by taking on odd jobs, working as a babysitter, a store clerk, a bread slicer in a bakery, a laboratory assistant at Wright State University, and a dining hall attendant at International House, Berkeley. She taught at Foothill College in Los Altos, California and Diablo Valley College. She now lives in Texas, where she teaches at The University of Houston Creative Writing Program.
Divakaruni is a co-founder and former president of Maitri, a helpline founded in 1991 for South Asian women dealing with domestic abuse. Divakaruni serves on its advisory board and on the advisory board of a similar organization in Houston, Daya. She also serves on the Houston board of Pratham, a non-profit organization working to bring literacy to disadvantaged Indian children.
Fiction and Poetry
Divakaruni's 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. Her fiction has been translated into 20 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Indonesian and Japanese.
Divakaruni began her writing career as a poet. Her two latest volumes of poetry are Black Candle and Leaving Yuba City. She won several awards for her poems, such as a Gerbode Award, a Barbara Deming Memorial Award and an Allen Ginsberg Award.
Divakaruni's first collection of stories Arranged Marriage, which won an American Book Award, a PEN Josephine Miles Award, and a Bay Area Book Reviewers Award, greatly increased her visibility. Her major novels include The Mistress of Spices, Sister of My Heart and Queen of Dreams. Although the greater part of her novels are written for adults, she has also written a young adult fantasy series called The Brotherhood of the Conch which, unlike many of her adult novels, takes place wholly in India and draws on the culture and folklore of that region. The first book of the series, The Conch Bearer was nominated for the 2003 Bluebonnet Award. The third and final book of the series, Shadowland, was published in 2009.
Divakaruni's latest novel for adults, The Palace of Illusions, is a re-telling of the Indian epic, The Mahabharata from a female character's perspective.
Film and television
Her novel, The Mistress of Spices, was released as a film of the same name in 2005. It was directed by Paul Mayeda Berges, with a script by Berges and his wife, Gurinder Chadha. The film starred Aishwarya Rai and Dylan McDermott.
In addition, her novel Sister of my Heart was made into a television series in Tamil and aired in India, as Anbulla Snegithiye (Loving Friend).
Divakaruni lives in Houston with her husband Murthy, her two sons Anand and Abhay (whose names she has used in her children’s novels) and Juno, the family dog.
- Arranged Marriage: Stories (1995)
- The Mistress of Spices (1997)
- Sister of My Heart (novel) (1999)
- The Unknown Errors of our Lives (stories) (2001)
- Neela: Victory Song (novel) (2002)
- The Vine of Desire (novel) (2002)
- The Conch Bearer (novel) Book One of the Brotherhood of the Conch (2003)
- Queen of Dreams (novel) (2004)
- The Mirror of Fire and Dreaming Book Two of the Brotherhood of the Conch (2005)
- The Palace of Illusions: A Novel (2008)
- Shadowland: Book Three of the Brotherhood of the Conch (2009)
- One Amazing Thing (2010)
- The Reason for Nasturtiums (1990)
- Black Candle (1991)
- Leaving Yuba City (1997)
- Indian Movie, New Jersey
- Multitude:Cross Cultural Readings for Writers (1993)
- We Too Sing America (1997)
- California Uncovered: Stories for the 21st Century (2004)
"The Art of dissolving boundaries is what living is all about." 
- 1995: The American Book Award for Arranged Marriage: Stories
- 1997: The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize and the Pushcart Prize for poems in Leaving Yuba City: New and Selected Poems
- 1997: Mistress of Spices shortlisted for The Orange Prize
- 1997: Los Angeles Times Best Books of 1997 for Mistress of Spices
- 1998: Seattle Times Best Paperbacks of 1998 for Mistress of Spices
- 1999: "Mrs. Dutta Writes a Letter" included in Best American Short Stories
- 2003: "The Lives of Strangers" included in O'Henry Prize Stories
- 2003: Pushcart Prize for "The Lives of Strangers"
- 2007: Distinguished Writer Award from the South Asian Literary Association
- 2008: University of California at Berkeley International House Alumna of the Year Award
- 2009: Cultural Jewel Award from the Indian Culture Center, Houston
- PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award for Arranged Marriage: Stories
- Bay Area Book Reviewers Award for Fiction for Arranged Marriage: Stories
- 2011: Light of India Jury's Award for Journalism and Literature
- Abcarian, Richard and Marvin Klotz. "Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni." In Literature: The Human Experience, 9th edition. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2006: 1544.
- Aldana, Frederick Luis. "Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: The Unknown Errors of Our Lives." World Literature Today. University of Oklahoma. 1 Jan 2002.
- Softsky, Elizabeth. "Cross Cultural Understanding Spiced with the Indian Diaspora." Black Issues in Higher Education 14 (15):26. 18 Sep 1997.
- X.J. Kennedy et al. The Bedford Reader, 10th edition. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007: 446.
- Newton, Pauline T. Transcultural Women of Later Twentieth Century U.S. American Literature. Ashgate Publishing, 2005.
- Merlin, Lara. "The Mistress of Spices." World Literature Today. University of Oklahoma. 1 Jan 1998.
- Johnson, Sarah Anne. "Writing outside the Lines." Writer 117(3):20 Mar 2004.