Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Hardback: 288 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Simon and Schuster 2013
Source:The author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
First Sentence: I'm swimming through a long, underwater cavern flecked with blue light, the cavern of love, with Rajat close behind me.
Review Quote:"Oleander Girl" is a riveting and powerful exploration of family secrets, betrayal, love, and ultimately, the search for self. Divakaruni paints colorful characters on a rich tapestry of modern India, all still haunted by the past."--Shilpi Somaya Gowda "New York Times bestselling author of Secret Daughter "
My Opinion: I am ashamed to admit that it is a whole year since I read this book, so I feel that I cannot write a proper review in case my memory gets muddled. As I read so many books it can happen that one sometimes recalls incorrectly! This is why I really need to catch up with my backlog and then stay on track to write reviews immediately I finish. An early New Year resolution, but meanwhile I do remember that it was a thoroughly enjoyable read with a beautiful love story as its central theme. Particularly interesting was the Indian setting and culture as Korobi, the female protagonist embarks on a quest to discover the truth about her roots.
Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:
From the bestselling author of One Amazing Thing, a sweeping, suspenseful, atmospheric coming-of-age novel about a young woman who leaves India for America on a search that will transform her life.
Beloved by critics and readers, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni has been hailed by Junot Díaz as a “brilliant storyteller” and by People magazine as a “skilled cartographer of the heart”. Now, Divakaruni returns with her most gripping novel yet.
Orphaned at birth, seventeen-year-old Korobi Roy is the scion of a distinguished Kolkata family and has enjoyed a privileged, sheltered childhood with her adoring grandparents. But she is troubled by the silence that surrounds her parents’ death and clings fiercely to her only inheritance from them: the love note she found hidden in her mother's book of poetry. Korobi dreams of one day finding a love as powerful as her parents', and it seems her wish has come true when she meets the charming Rajat, the only son of a high-profile business family.
But shortly after their engagement, a heart attack kills Korobi's grandfather, revealing serious financial problems and a devastating secret about Korobi's past. Shattered by this discovery and by her grandparents' betrayal, Korobi undertakes a courageous search across post 9/11 America to find her true identity. Her dramatic, often startling journey will, ultimately, thrust her into the most difficult decision of her life.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author and poet. Her themes include the Indian experience, contemporary America, women, immigration, history, myth, and the joys and challenges of living in a multicultural world. 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 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Hindi and Japanese. Divakaruni also writes for children and young adults.Her novels One Amazing Thing, Oleander Girl, Sister of My Heart and Palace of Illusions are currently in the process of being made into movies. Her newest novel is Before We Visit the Goddess (about 3 generations of women-- grandmother, mother and daughter-- who each examine the question "what does it mean to be a successful woman.") Simon & Schuster.
She was born in India and lived there until 1976, at which point she left Calcutta and went to live in the U.S.A. She continued her education in the field of English by receiving a Master’s 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 and Ohio, but has spent much of her life in Northern California, which she often writes about. She now lives in Texas, which has found its way into her upcoming book, Before We Visit the Goddess.
Chitra currently teaches in the nationally ranked Creative Writing program at the Univ. of Houston. She serves on the Advisory board of Maitri in the San Francisco Bay Area and Daya in Houston. Both these are organisations that help South Asian or South Asian American women who find themselves in abusive or domestic violence situations. She is also closely involved with Pratham, an organisation that helps educate children (especially those living in urban slums) in India.
She 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. Her novels One Amazing Thing and Palace of Illusions have currently been optioned for movies. Her book Arranged Marriage has been made into a play and performed in the U.S. and (upcoming, May) in Canada. River of Light, an opera about an Indian woman in a bi-cultural marriage, for which she wrote the libretto, has been performed in Texas and California.
She lives in Houston with her husband Murthy. She has two sons, Anand and Abhay (whose names she has used in her children’s novels).
Chitra loves to connect with readers via Social Media, links to sites listed below.
Photographs and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.
Goodreads Author Profile Amazon Author Page Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni - Twitter
Author's Official Website Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni - Facebook