Born in Calcutta, Chitra Divakaruni (author of Sister of My Heart and other books) came to Chicago twenty-five years ago to attend graduate school, just in time to get stranded when her family’s wealth failed. She took a job in a shop in a mall and tried to save every penny possible for her education. She would not even spend forty-five cents for an ice cream cone because it would set slow her savings. One evening as she was walking home, she decided to enter the local library to read. When she asked the librarian how many books she could borrow, she said “Honey, you can take as many books as you can carry.” In Calcutta, the limit had been two at a time. She said this was turning point. For the first time she felt she belonged in America.
Divakaruni read two excerpts from her new book Queen of Dreams, which features a secretive mother and her daughter, who spies on her. Like most of her writings, the author writes about the struggles of immigrant women.
I heard Divakaruni at the Live @ Your Library stage in the back of the exhibit hall at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago. The ALA Public Programs Office sponsors the stage on which authors read every thirty minutes. Divakaruni was followed by Elizabeth Berg and Kent Haruf. Today I hope to hear U. S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser.