The University of Houston-Victoria will welcome renowned author Chitra Banaerjee Divakaruni to campus as the opening speaker in the 2007-2008 American Book Review Reading Series on Aug. 30.
Divakaruni will appear in the Alcorn Auditorium from noon to 1:30 p.m. to read a sample of her work and answer audience questions. The event will be free and open to the public. Copies of Queen of Dreams as well as Divakaruni’s other bestselling novel The Mistress of Spices will be available for purchase. Light refreshments will be served.
Her work is widely known, having been published in over 50 magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker, and over 50 anthologies in thirteen languages. In 1996, she was awarded the prestigious American Book Award for her short story collection Arranged Marriage.
“Divakaruni is an amazing writer and one of the leading voices in women’s literature today,” notes UHV Dean of Arts and Sciences and ABR Editor Dr. Jeffrey R. Di Leo. “Her visit to UHV is a major literary and cultural event—and the perfect way to launch the 2007/2008 UHV/ABR Reading Series.”
Divakaruni was born in Calcutta, India and lived there until 1976, until she was nineteen, at which point she and came to the United States. She received a Master's degree in English Literature from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. Divakaruni now lives in Sugar Land and teaches English at the nationally-ranked Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston.
As an author, much of Divakaruni's writing focuses on the lives of immigrant women.
"Women in particular respond to my work because I’m writing about them, women in love, in difficulties, women in relationships,” Divakaruni said. “I want people to relate to my characters, to feel their joy and pain, because it will be harder to [be] prejudiced when they meet them in real life.”
Her recent books include
- Queen of Dreams, a novel following Rakhi, an artist and divorced mother living in Berkeley, California. When her mother, an interpreter of dreams, passes away, Rakhi must confront a forgotten past and an increasingly complex life in post 9-11 America.
- The Conch Bearer, a magical novel for children in which the young Anand is entrusted with a powerful conch shell which he must restore to its rightful home high in the mountains.
- The Mirror of Fire and Dreaming, the sequel to The Conch Bearer, a novel which transports the reader into the past, to the court of a nawab where Anand must battle an evil sorcerer bent on gaining control over the kingdom.
- Neela: Victory Song, a children’s novel which follows the story of a twelve-year-old girl caught up in the Independence movement in 1939 India.
- Vine of Desire, a novel which continues the story of Anju and Sudha, the two young women at the center of Divakaruni’s bestselling novel Sister of My Heart.
The Mistress of Spices has been made into a film by the team that created the hugely successful movie Bend It Like Beckham: Paul Berges and Gurinder Chadha. The lead roles are played by Aishwarya Rai and Dylan McDermott.
“I could not be more pleased to welcome Chitra Divakaruni to UHV,” said UHV President Tim Hudson. “The cultural dialogue created between these esteemed writers and our students, faculty and admirers of literature from the community are what make these offerings such an important part of the continuing maturation of the university.”
The American Book Review, which is sponsoring the event, is an internationally-distributed literary journal with a circulation of about 8,000 copies. The editorial office of ABR moved to UHV in 2006 when Di Leo took over as Editor-in-Chief.
In September, the transfer of ABR will be complete with the journal’s layout, printing and distribution moving from Illinois State University to Victoria.
Past speakers for the ABR Reading Series have included Graciela Limón, Justin Cronin, Angela Ball, Raymond Federman and Andrei Codrescu.
For more information on Divakaruni or the ABR Reading Series, contact Managing Editor Dr. Charles Alcorn at (361) 570-4100.