One Amazing Thing - Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni - Mesmerizing !!!

I've finished Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni's One Amazing Thing. Well, this one's much much better than William Dalrymple's Nine Lives. I felt Nine Lives was bland, this one was surreal and biting.

The story is pretty much simple and straightforward. Again 9 People, with completely different backgrounds, are at the helm of affairs. They are at the Indian consulate when an earthquake strikes leaving them trapped beneath tonnes of rubble. What follows next is a simple story of survival, as each one of them recites one amazing thing about their lives.

The book is very very real, and to the point. The choice of characters is also excellent, though I am able to see a typical 'southie' touch in this 'eastie' author. Conversations are simple, fast and to the point, and frankly and surprisingly enjoyable.


I am reproducing the part of the blurb that got me hooked onto the book.

Late afternoon sun sneaks through the windows of a passport and visa office in an unnamed American city. Most customers and even most office workers have come and gone, but nine people remain. A punky teenager with an unexpected gift. An upper-class Caucasian couple whose relationship is disintegrating. A young Muslim-American man struggling with the fallout of 9/11. A graduate student haunted by a question about love. An African-American ex-soldier searching for redemption. A Chinese grandmother with a secret past. And two visa office workers on the verge of an adulterous affair.

When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping these nine characters together, their focus first jolts to their collective struggle to survive. There's little food. The office begins to flood. Then, at a moment when the psychological and emotional stress seems nearly too much for them to bear, the young graduate student suggests that each tell a personal tale, "one amazing thing" from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. And as their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval, and self-discovery unfold against the urgency of their life-or-death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself. From Chitra Divakaruni, author of such finely wrought, bestselling novels as Sister of My Heart, The Palace of Illusions, and The Mistress of Spices, comes her most compelling and transporting story to date. One Amazing Thing is a passionate creation about survival--and about the reasons to survive.


Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book.

This one comes right at the beginning of the book,just after the credits and I liked it.. :)

If no one knows you, then you are no one.

"Looking back, I could not point to one special time and say, There! That’s what is amazing. We can change completely and not recognize it. We think terrible events have made us into stone. But love slips in like a chisel—and suddenly it is an ax, breaking us into pieces from the inside.”

"Now she was filled with sorrow and anger: sorrow for the boy he had been and anger because he had not ever trusted her with the truth. "

“I don’t think Ravi was in love with Nirmala,” Lily said. “It was probably infatuation because she was so different from the girls he knew. Maybe he was secretly relieved because she went with Gopalan—like when you have a boyfriend you don’t really like anymore, but you can’t tell them, and then they start going out with someone else.”

"You’ve been speaking of events that shatter lives in a day’s time: wars, betrayal, seduction, death. In my case, my life was turned around by a man I didn’t know helping his wife take off her coat."

"...Is it fair to ask me to remain in a relationship that’s killing me ?"


The book is pretty much short and readable. Worth a read, if you are interested in people's lives... :)

P.S:- I started reading this only day before yesterday :) And I finished it today... So not bad at all... :) :D

Tuesday, March 2, 2010 by Hari
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