Critical Perspectives on Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: Feminism and Diaspora offers insights into Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s provocative and popular fiction. In their engaging and comprehensive introduction, editors Amritjit Singh and Robin Field explore how Divakaruni’s short stories and novels have been shaped by her own struggles as a new immigrant and by the influences she imbibed from academic mentors and feminist writers of color. Twelve critical essays by both aspiring and experienced scholars explore Divakaruni's aesthetic of interconnectivity and wholeness as she links generations, races, ethnicities, and nations in her depictions of the diversity of religious and ethnic affiliations within the Indian diaspora. The contributors offer a range of critical perspectives on Divakaruni’s growth as a novelist of historical, mythic, and political motifs. The volume includes two extended interviews with Divakaruni, offering insights into her personal inspirations and social concerns, while also revealing her deep affection for South Asian communities, as well as an essay by Divakaruni herself—a candid expression of her artistic independence in response to the didactic expectations of her many South Asian readers.
Amritjit Singh is Langston Hughes professor emeritus of English and African American studies at Ohio University.
Robin E. Field is professor of English at King’s College.
Samina Najmi is professor of English at California State University, Fresno.
Introduction, Amritjit Singh and Robin E. Field
Part 1: Feminist Politics, Feminine Sensibilities
Chapter 1: Between Home and the World: Situating South Asian American Feminism in the Fiction of Chitra Divakaruni, Nalini Iyer
Chapter 2: Helping Women Help Themselves in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Arranged Marriage and The Unknown Errors of Our Lives, Payel Basu
Chapter 3: Woman to Woman, Sister to Sister: Feminine Connections in Divakaruni’s Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart, Leisl King
Chapter 4: “Her Story” in Chitra Divakaruni and Shashi Despande: Re-Reading the Mahabharata from Women’s Perspectives, Shaweta Nanda
Part II: Narrating Memory and Belonging
Chapter 5: The Statue of Liberty and the Secret Sharer: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s “A Perfect Life”, Sau-ling C. Wong
Chapter 6: Memory, Nostalgia, and Finding Oneself in Divakaruni’s Fiction, Shashikala Assella
Chapter 7: Transnational Hope in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Short Fiction, Elise Auvil
Chapter 8: Morphed Sense of Longing and Belonging in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and Arundhati Roy, Metka Zupančič
Part III: Identity Politics and Social Protest
Chapter 9: Spicing It Up: Strategic Orientalism and Racial Interconnectedness as Social Curatives in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Oleander Girl, Pallavi Rastogi
Chapter 10: “It was a Bad Time for Muslims in America”: Representation of Islamophobia in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Queen of Dreams and One Amazing Thing, Atreyee Gohain
Chapter 11: Revisiting Mythology and Registering Protest in Divakaruni’s The Palace of Illusions, Kalyanee Rajan
Chapter 12: Neo-Oriental Representations: Widows in Chitra Divakaruni’s Arranged Marriage, Parimala Kulkarni
Part IV: In Her Own Words: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Chapter 13: Between Scylla and Charybdis: What Should a Writer Write About and How?, Chitra Divakaruni
Chapter 14: Writing as Spiritual Experience: A Conversation with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Neila C. Seshachari
Chapter 15: “Through This Experience I Connect with You”: An Interview with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Robin E. Field, Cynthia Leenerts, Summer Pervez
About the Contributors
Focusing on feminism and diaspora, both of which are shifting signifiers. Bringing them together is like aiming at a moving target. However, the editors have aimed well and scored an ace.
It is so fitting that a book about the work of an author who has written so much and impacted so many fields should be the work of so many contributors and include such a variety of content. This is an invaluable collection for scholars and teachers interested in Divakaruni’s oeuvre vis-a-vis diasporic studies, Asian American literature, and women’s studies, to name just a few.
This much needed, impressively researched, and expertly edited volume is the first to place Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s writing within its appropriate historical, scholarly, and artistic contexts. An impressive collection of cutting-edge essays by both established scholars and newer voices, this book is an invaluable resource for those interested in the re-imagination of South Asian religious, mythological, and historical female figures, as well as for scholars of multi-ethnic literature, transnational studies, and women’s diasporic literature.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is among the most innovative and versatile writers today. Her oeuvre elicits brilliant responses from around the world, each showing her relevance to popular new areas of revisiting mythology, history and diversity. The diaspora view of feminism is a refreshing formulation on multicultural identities, something deep rooted in originary emotions yet layered over by intersectional experiences. This book is a significant contribution to literature and gender studies.