Author: Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee
Title: One Amazing Thing
An earthquake traps nine strangers in the visa office of an Indian Consulate somewhere in America. They are an eclectic bunch. There's Jiang and her teen-age granddaughter, Lily; Uma, a graduate student trying to get a visa in order to travel back to India to visit her parents; Tariq, a young Muslim-American; Cameron, an African-American ex-soldier with asthma; the Pritchards, who are having marital troubles; and Mr. Mangalam, the office manager, and Malathi, his secretary. None of them have much in common. And without much food, or any way out, tensions soon start to grow between them. Until Uma suggests they each tell a story of one amazing thing from their lives to pass the time while they wait to be rescued. Their stories are uniquely poignant and powerful, uniting them together.
So I started my own Reading the Alphabet challenge seven years ago, starting with the letter Z and working my way backwards to A. And I was finally going to finish it up last year, but then COVID hit and my library closed, so there went browsing the shelves for serendipitous finds. Even when my library opened back up last summer, it was only for curbside pick-ups at first, and I got into the habit of just putting all my library books on hold. Which I've continued to do for the last year. But this month I decided to start browsing the shelves once again instead.
From Dailey to DeMille to Dickens, there are a lot of authors whose last names begin with the letter D on the shelves at my library, so I had a lot of books to choose from, but I'm very glad I chose to check out this thoughtful book by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (who I've never read before). It's certainly an original novel. I was drawn to each one of her characters as they shared their personal stories, even the flawed and outwardly unlikable ones. But then, it's our experiences, our stories of suffering and joy, that connect us as human beings. And Divakaruni's amazing writing made it possible for me to connect with each of her nine characters. This quiet novel was another serendipitous find from the library, introducing me to an author I'd happily read again. And even though I wish the ending had been a little less ambiguous, I ended up liking this one a lot.