Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Quote Topics Cited
A book can be wonderful and powerful and accessible and artful all at the same time. Time
A kshatriya woman's highest purpose in life is to support the warriors in her life: her father, brother, husband and sons. Life
After 9/11, there was so much distress in America that it led to an inter-cultural breakdown. Some of our communities were targeted. Many of our adults shut themselves off from other cultures. I tried to bring children of Indian and other cultures together in my literature.
After September 11, 2001, I was feeling like I really wanted more understanding between cultures. It seemed to me that so much of what happened on September 11 was because people didn't understand each other and were suspicious of each other.
America is a country formed by diverse communities from different countries. Overall, the country is very hospitable and gives opportunities to grow. Saying that, I'd also say I'm not a 'white' immigrant; a South Asian's experience is different than, say, a European immigrant's.
As a writer, I have to show complexities. Through my writings, I hope to bring out people in different situations and not just one-dimensional beings. Hope
As I lived on in America, I got to truly know the people of this country - so many kind and wonderful people, people of so many races - who helped me in so many ways. Who became my friends. I realized that underneath our different accents, habits, foods, religions, ways of thinking, we shared a common humanity.
As I remember my grandfather and those Christmas mornings he gave for a little girl's pleasure, I know that often a big life starts with doing small things. Life
As I've written more, and as other Indian American voices have grown around me, I strive harder to find experiences that are unique yet a meaningful and resonant part of the American story.
By the time we're adults, our ideas have solidified. So I wanted to write for a younger audience, who would perhaps love heroes from other cultures. Time ;Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Dissolving differences has always been an important motive for my writing, right from 'The Mistress of Spices.'
Each book is a separate entity for me. When I'm writing it, I enter its world and inhabit its vocabulary. I forget, as it were, that I ever wrote anything else.
I am a Hindu, brought up mostly in India.
I came from a traditional family, and it was an exciting but challenging transition to move to America and live on my own. The world around me was suddenly so different. Families, Children & Parenting
I came into Chicago in winter - I'd never been so cold in my life! I was very homesick, and a poor student at that time. America seemed so different and so filled with amazing things - and almost all of them were out of my reach. Life ;Time
I came to the plain fields of Ohio with pictures painted by Hollywood movies and the works of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. None of them had much to say, if at all, about Dayton, Ohio. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
I feel I can express the nuances of the Bengali lifestyle and ways of thinking better than other cultures.
I find that it's really important for me to imagine characters and situations. That allows me a lot of freedom. Freedom & Liberty
I grew up in Kolkata in a traditional family. We had friends who lived in mansions just like the one in 'Oleander Girl.' Growing up, I was fascinated by the old house and the old Bengal lifestyle. Families, Children & Parenting
I had friends who died in the 9/11 tragedy; some of my friends lost family members in the aftermath of Godhra. Families, Children & Parenting
I hate it when people throw away food - I've seen too many hungry people. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
I have a lot of respect and love for children's books. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Respect
I have a variety of readers from across the diasporic community, not just from South Asia. I like to write large stories that include all of us - about common and cohesive experiences which bring together many immigrants, their culture shocks, transformations, concepts of home and self in a new land.
I have been watching how Indian women are forced to do certain things, as the stories of sacrifice and devotion in mythology demand from them. And then there are inspiring stories about women like the Rani of Jhansi that offer women refreshing role models. Women
I have no particular reader in mind, but a passionate desire to tell an honest, moving story.
I interviewed a lot of people in India, and I asked my mother to send me a lot of Bengali books on the tradition of dream interpretation. It's a real way for me to remember how people think about things in my culture.
I like being myself. Maybe just slimmer, with a few less wrinkles.
I love visual art. I painted for many years when I was younger. I have studied modern/contemporary Indian art a bit and am very impressed with the talent in India. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
I realise that a novel and a film are different mediums. As artistes, we need to respect other artistes. It also needs a lot of courage to take risks to experiment and interpret known literary works. Respect
I show women growing, changing, becoming stronger in many kinds of situations. Women
I started putting down my thoughts on paper out of loneliness while I was studying in America. I was very close to my grandfather, and when he died, I couldn't visit home. I started scribbling those thoughts.
I started writing after the death of my grandfather - memories, poems, etc. It was very personal; for years I did not share my writing with anyone. Death
I think writers from both East and West have long been fascinated by the ancient tales and the opportunity to reinterpret them.
I think, we all learned that when we are afraid it's easy to want to blame, and the people we want to blame are the people who don't look like us.
I took a little break after 'The Palace of Illusions' to clear my head.
I type everything on my computer. I carry a writer's notebook everywhere, in case I am struck by an idea. I forget things unless I write them down. I'm planning to learn how to dictate into my cellphone; I think that will be very helpful, too.
I want my books to force readers to recognise the fact that a woman is a human being just like them.
I want people to be sensitive about how women feel and think. Women
I was about 12 when I first encountered 'The Moonstone' - or a Classics Illustrated version of it - digging through an old trunk in my grandfather's house on a rainy Bengali afternoon.
I was caught on the freeway for hours when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. The entire city had to be evacuated. I observed lives threatened by catastrophes and a whole range of behaviour. What could people do during a crisis?
I was very fortunate that all my holidays I'd spend with my grandfather, experiencing a much more traditional way of life and listening to these wonderful stories, which I now feel are such an important part of Indian thinking. Life
I work very hard at creating complex characters, a mix of positives and negatives. They are all flawed. I believe flaws are almost universal, and they help us understand, sympathise and, paradoxically, feel closer to such characters. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I write best late at night, when everyone in the house has gone to bed. There's something magical about that late night silence that appeals to me.
I write in my study, where I also have my prayer altar. I believe that keeps me focused and gives me positive energy and reminds me that I'm merely the instrument of greater creative forces.
I wrote 'Mistress of Spices' at an unusual time when I had a near-death experience after the birth of my second son. Time
If it is good literature, the reader and the writer will connect. It's inevitable.
If you look back at the great classics and the epics and myths, they were for everyone. Different people got different things from them, but everyone was invited to participate.
I'm a very senses-oriented person, and I want to bring readers in on the level of the senses, so they can experience another culture and another place.
I'm too careful with money - comes out of being poor for several years while growing up. Money, Coins & Minting
Immigration was a huge force in changing my outlook. I moved to America 30 years ago. I had to reassess my beliefs, especially about women's roles. Women
In community work, you reach some people, but in writing, I can reach many more people, not only in exploring issues of domestic violence, but also by showing the importance of strong women in communities. Women ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
In many immigrant families, the parents are just talking and talking about the home country until the children are like, 'Oh, don't tell us any more.'
In Western dream interpretation, it's often connected to psychotherapy and looking at the personality and what's going on in your life. In Eastern dream telling, many times there's this idea of a special gift. And without this gift, you could study and study, but you'd never really become an effective dream teller. Life
India has been a very accepting culture. We pride ourselves on that. That is a global truth. In fact, it forms a major theme in my books. Truth
India lends itself well to fictionalization, but ultimately, it all depends on the writer's imagination.
It is an Englishman who turns out to be the real villain of 'The Moonstone.' By contrast, the three Indian priests who dedicate their lives to returning the jewel to its proper home in the temple, though they have nothing personal to gain by doing so, are positively heroic.
It's different for different people, and for a woman it's important to look as good she wants to look. But you don't need to do it for someone else or to impress some male out there. You do it for your own sake. You wear what makes you feel good, you put make-up and jewellery - whatever gives you self-confidence.
It's never really easy to be successful as a writer when you're trying to write literary fiction. You've already limited your readership limited by that choice.
It's very important to balance things; it's imperative to do something for the society, and women in particular, and help women who aren't in position to help themselves. Society ;Women
I've been interested in dreams myself for a long time, and it's a big part of the Indian tradition, especially where I was brought up in Calcutta in my family, which is quite traditional. Time ;Families, Children & Parenting
I've long been interested in the tale-within-a-tale phenomenon. I'm familiar with many tales which use this framework or the device of many people in one place, telling their stories, or multiple storytellers commenting on each others' stories with their own.
My favorite part was when my grandfather and I would make a special trip to Firpo's Bakery for red and green Christmas cookies and fruitcake studded with the sweetest cherries I've ever tasted. Usually Firpo's was too expensive for our slim budget, but Christmas mornings they gave a discount to any children who came in.
My grandfather was a very strong personality. He certainly ruled his household with an iron fist, even though it was often gloved in velvet!
Often, writer's block will occur when I don't understand a character or his/her motivations. So I will make notes analysing characters.
One of the things that I am learning is that each generation will have its own negotiations with identity. And one generation can not necessarily help the other generation with it. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Perhaps what distinguishes my characters is their courage and spirit and a certain stubbornness which enables them to keep going even when facing a setback. I think this developed organically as I wrote, but also it came out of a desire to portray women as powerful and intelligent forces in the world. Women
Sometimes what is 'real' because it takes place in the physical world, like 9/11, is so unreal on the level of the soul. Then other things, which in terms of the physical world seem so magical and unbelievable, on the level of the soul seem very real.
Strong women, when respected, make the whole society stronger. One must be careful with such rapid changes, though, and make an effort to preserve, at the same time, the positive traditions of Indian culture. Time ;Women
The ancient world is always accessible, no matter what culture you come from. I remember when I was growing up in India and I read the 'Iliad' and the 'Odyssey.'
The Mahabharata might have been a great and heroic battle, but there are no winners. The losers, of course, lose.
'The Mahabharata,' which inspired my novel 'Palace of Illusions,' also has many stories embedded within the main tale.
'The Moonstone' was all I could have hoped for. A mysterious, cursed jewel, wrested from India, only to be stolen later from a great British mansion. Enigmatic, dangerous priests who follow it across the ocean in hopes of wresting it back.
There is no conflict in looking good. You buy things you need, and then you do something good for society. Society
There is something in human beings that loves stories.
To achieve important things, we have to sacrifice what's important to us. That's an idea that's very central to Indian thinking.
To make money for college, I worked in our college dining room. Money, Coins & Minting
To me, characters are at the heart of great literature.
To some extent, I draw on what I see around me; in other places, I imagine what I write.
Two great and terrible truths of war are these: War is easy to enter into, but difficult to end. And ultimately, in war there are no winners. War & Peace
Unlike novels with a hero or two heroines, in 'One Amazing Thing,' all the characters tell stories they've never told anyone before, so all the voices become equally important.
We even had a different word for Christmas in my language, Bengali: Baradin, which literally meant 'big day.'
When I was volunteering with Hurricane Katrina refugees in Houston in 2005, I first started thinking about the whole phenomenon of grace under pressure.
With the strong women I write about, I want to create a sense of strong possibilities. Women