Of Bengali origin, Bharati Mukherjee was born in Calcutta, West Bengal, India. She later traveled with her parents to Europe after Independence, only returning to Calcutta in the early 1950s. There she attended the Loreto School, Kolkata. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Calcutta in 1959 and her Master of Arts from the University of Baroda in 1961. She next traveled to the United States to study at the University of Iowa. She received her Master of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1963 and her Doctor of Philosophy in 1969 from the department of Comparative Literature.
Mukherjee married writer Clark Blaise in 1963. Together they have written two works of nonfiction, Days and Nights in Calcutta (1977) and The Sorrow and the Terror: The Haunting Legacy of the Air India Tragedy (1987). After more than a decade living in Canada (Montreal and Toronto), Mukherjee, Blaise, and their children returned to the United States. Mukherjee wrote of the decision in An Invisible Woman, published in a 1981 issue of Saturday Night.
Mukherjee has taught at McGill University, Skidmore College, Queens College, and City University of New York.
An early and popular work of fiction is Jasmine 1989. In this novel, a young Indian woman becomes an illegal immigrant to the United States and acculturates by taking on a series of different identities.
Mukherjee strives in her novels to understand what is meant by the idea of an American identity, and whether in a world of hybridity and multiplicity, such a notion can exist. This is particularly evident in her more recent works The Holder of the World (1993), Leave It to Me (1997) and Desirable Daughters (2002). Her latest novel is The Tree Bride, (2004).
Mukherjee is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is also a U.S. citizen.
“I don’t think I have been ‘influenced’ by any writer.”
Penguin Group USA
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