May 19, 2012

One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (Book Review)

Title: One Amazing Thing
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
First Published on: 2009 in Voice by Hyperion in USA
ISBN: 9780670084524
Pages: 208
Price:  450/-
Rating: 4/5

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, surely needs no introduction, as she is one of those Indian-English writers who provokes the Diasporic Literature to reach its zenith. Every time I read her novels, I delve deep in the ocean of her amazing story selections - simple, common but unique in true sense; which keeps one mesmerized with its ravishing writing skills. She blooms the sentiments of the off-shore Indians and their diasporic emotional values. Every time she lands up with a new thought, a new set of characters, with a new story. But among all facts, her novels have one common touch of the very Indianness.

My recent read, One Amazing Thing, is in the true sense a novel which recollects and brings out the amazing part of the characters life or rather I should say - a confrontation with the inner 'I'.  

The outline of the story is too simple to tell - 9 people got stuck in an Indian Visa office in America after a severe earthquake took place. The suffering and confinement in between the debris, where water leakage is taking everything under water by inches and insufficient food and water, have created a suffocated mental suffering for the victims who are also engaged in self infringement. In this deadening situation, Uma Sinha and Cameron played the roles of the catalysts to set a light in the victims’ life to get rid of their fear of death for the time being. It was Uma's idea to engage the characters in the amazing story telling assiduity. In this dreadful moment, the characters get a relief by telling each other the amazing stories of their lives. The 9 characters are as follows -

1. Uma Sinha an Indian young college going student in America.
2. Cameron- an African-American ex-soldier in his fifties.
3 & 4. V.K.S. Mangalam and Malathi Ramaswamy, the two visa officers.
5 & 6. Mr. and Mrs. Pritchett .
7. Tariq, a young Muslim galvanized his heart against the Americans.
8 & 9. Jiang a Chinese grandmother and her granddaughter Lily.

All the characters have transmigrated to America from the different parts of the world, but they have one destination to travel that is to India. Their Stories also tell the reasons of their India visit apart from Mr.Mangalam and Malathi. Apart from the turbulence of the earthquake and the survival strategies that the people are trying every moment to be safe, the novel mainly holds the 9 stories from the characters' which help the novel to develop. At the first glance the stories seem the simple incident of their life. But those stories mainly are the hidden achievements or their self confessions that the truth of their consciousness really focus on. What I felt the stories are simply nothing but the confrontation with their Inner ‘I’, at the moment of facing death so close, they were able to see their heart also, that they like to share or confess before their death. Each story of one’s life tells the whole life story of the person. It’s a confession that they want to get relieved of the burden. The darkness of the fear of death opens the gates of their heart to the unknown people whom they never know whether they will meet again in future or not.

I loved reading the novel, but all the nine stories didn't hold the same likeness to me. I liked Jiang’s and Malathi's stories most. Tarique's story focuses on the racial conflict what the American based Muslims really face. The other stories are simple realizations in the attire of incidents. I found the novel little bit boring, but a nice read though.

 This review is also published HERE.

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