Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author and poet. 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 13 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew and Japanese.
She was born in India and lived there until 1976, at which point she left Calcutta and came to the United States. 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, Ohio and Texas, but has spent most of her life in Northern California, which she often writes about.
Divakaruni currently teaches in the nationally ranked Creative Writing program at the Univ. of Houston. She serves on the board of Maitri in the San Freancisco Bay Area and on the Advisory Board of Daya in Houston. Both these are organizations that help South Asian or South Asian American women who find themselves in abusive or domestic violence situations. She is also on the board of Pratham, an organization that helps educate children (especially those living in urban slums) in India.
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.
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.
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