what new yorkers are reading on the subway

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sister of My Heart

A Train between Brooklyn and Manhattan
I first encountered Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni in the '90s while in grad school. She granted me an interview for the literary magazine we were trying to get off the ground, having published just one book of short stories, Arranged Marriage. Those stories, I felt at the time, captured something I didn't know about--the South Asian immigrant experience--but something much more universal and also attractive--the feeling of alienation within American culture. Her second book, The Mistress of Spices, didn't compel quite as much. Then life I found myself drawn to other writers. Angeline, who was reading Sister of My Heart on the A train, had that same visceral response as I did after reading that first book. Angeline, who first encountered Divakaruni at Rutgers in a multi-cultural literature class in college, is a far better reader than I am, I'm afraid. There's something about someone who will go out and read a writer's body of work, and Angeline, a second grade teacher, had just gone out and bought three of Divakaruni's novels. Sister of My Heart is the first one she's tackled, and it's about two cousins raised as sisters, set in India. She's nearly done with the novel after reading it for only four days, "a quick read" she says.

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