Before coming to the United States from India, Chitra Banjeree Divakaruni never thought of herself as a writer. That changed one day when she realized she could no longer remember her grandfather’s face.
“As we begin to write, we begin to remember,” said the award winning author, poet, and professor of creative writing at the University of Houston. Divakaruni spoke at an event titled “Bridging differences in a new culture: An Immigrant’s Journey,” at Central Oregon Community College.
The author spoke about her experience as an Indian American and the importance of reading and writing. She read passages from her latest book, Before We Visit the Goddess. The novel details the lives of three Indian women, separated by generations, continents, and culture; the oldest spends her life in India, while her daughter runs away to the United States, and the youngest paves her way through modern-day America.
Divakaruni examined complex questions, such as: what is the nature of success? Through generations and across continents, how are values and traditions passed down, and how do these values change?
“The most difficult questions are the ones most worth writing about,” she said.
Living in a new country made her see the world differently – especially her home country of India. Although culture shock is a complex situation to discuss, Divakaruni continued to enlighten guests through her experience, often drawing laughter from the audience. She joked about how exciting the lives of her characters were in comparison to her own, considering she spends her days writing and teaching. One experience she shared with one of her characters was her initial fascination with the uniformity of Pringles upon arriving in the United States.
What helped the author most in conforming to a new country were the multicultural programs at her university, and the overall kindness of Americans.
Marisa Funk | The Broadside