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About the Author


Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author, poet, and teacher of writing. Her 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. Her books have been translated into 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, and Japanese.

Born in Kolkata, India, she came to the United States for her graduate studies, receiving a Master’s degree in English 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 most of her life in Northern California, which she often writes about. She currently lives in Houston, Texas.

Divakaruni teaches in the nationally ranked Creative Writing program at the University of Houston. She serves on the Advisory board of Maitri in the San Francisco Bay Area and Daya in Houston. Both are organizations that help South Asian or South Asian American women who find themselves in abusive or domestic violence situations. She served on the board of Pratham, an organization that helps educate underprivileged children in India, for many years, and is currently on their emeritus board.

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. Mistress of Spices was shortlisted for the Orange Prize.

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.

Biography courtesy of

List of Works


Oleander Girl, A Novel (to be released on March 19, 2013)

One Amazing Thing

The Palace of Illusions: A Novel

Queen of Dreams

The Vine of Desire*

Sister of My Heart (1999)

The Mistress of Spices
   * sequel to Sister of My Heart


Grandma and the Great Gourd: A Bengali Folk Tale. Illustrations by Susy Pilgrim Waters (to be released on March 5, 2013)

Shadowland.  Brotherhood of the Conch,
Book Three (2009)

The Mirror of Fire and Dreaming.  Brotherhood of the Conch
, Book Two (2005)

The Conch Bearer
Brotherhood of the Conch, Book One (2003)

Neela: Victory Song*.  
Illustrations by Troy Howell (2002)
part of Girls of Many Lands series


The Unknown Errors of Our Lives (2001)

Arranged Marriage: Stories (1995)


Leaving Yuba City (1997)

Black Candle

The Reason for Nasturtiums

Dark Like the River
   * Before she began her career in fiction-writing, Divakaruni was an acclaimed poet


Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales (2010, 1999) (Contributor)

California Uncovered: Stories for the 21st Century
(2004) (Editor; Contributor)

The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage (2003)

We, Too, Sing America: A Reader for Writers

Making More Waves: New Writing by Asian American Women
(1997) (Contributor)

Multitude: Cross-Cultural Readings for Writers
(1996, 1993)


The Reluctant Patriot”, written for the Los Angeles Times after 9/11. October 21, 2011.

 “My Fictional Children”, written for while working on The Vine of Desire, the sequel to Sister of My Heart.

Uncertain Objects of Desire”, an essay on the new arranged marriage, written for The Atlantic Monthly. March 2000                                                     

“Born in the USA”, written for

“Dissolving Boundaries
”, written for Bold Type in 1997.  A discussion of life events that led her to write The Mistress of Spices.                                         

“What Women Share
”, written for Bold Type in 1998.  A discussion of childhood experiences that led her to write Sister of My Heart.                                         


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.

Sister of My Heart
was made into a television series in Tamil and aired in India, as Anbulla Snegithiye (Loving Friend).


Light of India Jury's Award for Journalism and Literature, 2011

Cultural Jewel Award, Indian Culture Center, Houston, 2009

University of California at Berkeley, International House Alumna of the Year Award, 2008

South Asian Literary Association Distinguished Author Award, 2007

The Conch Bearer
nominated for the Bluebonnet Award, 2004

Included in Best Books of 2003, Publishers Weekly, The Conch Bearer

“The Lives of Strangers” included in O’ Henry Prize Stories, 2003

Pushcart Prize, 2003, for “The Lives of Strangers”

Included in Best Books of 2002, Los Angeles Times, The Vine of Desire

Included in Best Books of 2002, San Francisco Chronicle, The Vine of Desire

“Mrs. Dutta Writes a Letter” included in Best American Short Stories, 1999

Included in Best Paperbacks of 1998, Seattle Times, for The Mistress of Spices

California Arts Council Award, 1998

Included in Best Books of 1997, Los Angeles Times, The Mistress of Spices

American Book Award, 1996, for Arranged Marriage

PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award, 1996, for Arranged Marriage: Stories

Bay Area Book Reviewers Award, Best Fiction, 1996, for Arranged Marriage: Stories

C.Y. Lee Creative Writing Award, 1995

Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize, 1994, for poems in Leaving Yuba City

Pushcart Prize, 1994, for poems in Leaving Yuba City

2 Pen Syndicated Fiction Awards, 1993 and 1994

Gerbode Foundation Award, California, 1992

Honorable mention, Paterson Poetry Prize, 1992, for Black Candle

Santa Clara Arts Council Award, California 1990, 1994

Editor’s Choice Award, Cream City Review, 1990

Barbara Deming Memorial Award, New York, 1989

The Hackney Literary Award, Birmingham-Southern College, Alabama, 1988




Chitra Divakaruni Official Website      

Chitra’s Blog - Amazing Things: Chitra Divakaruni on Life and Lit 
Chitra on Facebook          

Chitra’s Twitter   

Watch Maryville Talks Books: One on One with Chitra Divakaruni. HEC-TV.  Nov 2012

Watch The Connection: Special Edition interview. Houston PBS.  Posted Mar 29, 2011     

Watch Chitra discuss One Amazing Thing at Authors@Google.  Feb 9, 2010  

Watch Chitra Divakaruni’s Story. University of Houston.  Posted Mar 8, 2010

Watch Gulf Coast Reads 2011 Kick-off Event - Chitra Divakaruni, One Amazing Thing.  Posted Sep 26, 2011

Read interview with Chitra Divakaruni about One Amazing Thing. Feb 12, 2010

Read “The Power of Storytelling: An Interview with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni” by Metka Zupančič.   Contemporary Women's Writing (2012).  Posted Jan 10, 2012