Archive for February 11th, 2010

One Amazing Thing

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

The Short Take:

At first glance you think you’re going to get the book version of a disaster movie. Turns out this slim novel is closer to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. And that’s a very good thing.


A diverse group of people are waiting in a bureaucratic office when disaster strikes. Immediately you start expecting the usual stereotypes: the leader, the loser, the hysteric, the unexpected hero, and so on. There is some of that in this book but mainly this room of trapped people share stories. Not just any stories, but stories about something that shaped their lives — one amazing thing.

The stories are as diverse as their tellers and each is fascinating for entirely different reasons. What makes these stories even more interesting is how they change your preconceived notions about each person in the room.

The tales touch on social, political, romantic, and cultural themes. They’re about loss and longing, success and failure, betrayal and support. They’re wonderful, human stories. In fact, it’s hard to believe that so much life can be packed into so few pages (the hardback is only 219 pages long). This little book isn’t a gem, it’s a diamond mine.

A Little Plot:

A very diverse group of people are waiting help with their visas in the basement office of an Indian consulate when an earthquake strikes and they become trapped. Water is slowly seeping into the space, air is limited, there is no light, and things could get drastically worse at any second in the crumbling building.

To combat their growing panic, one young woman suggests they each share a story with the others: an important story from their lives. As they work together to improve their chances of survival, they also share these stories. And in the process reveal their souls. And enrich our lives.

For more about this noveland Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, click here


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