One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni

In addition to The Canterbury Tales (which appears in my novel) and Wuthering Heights, I was drawing on works such as The Decameron, The Arabian Nights, and the Indian Wise-Animal tales, The Panchatantra. Just before beginning my book, I reread Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto because I really liked the feel of that novel. ~Chitra Divakaruni

A group of diverse people are trapped by an earthquake inside a visa office, and to survive emotionally they begin, one by one, to tell their stories.

“Unless we’re careful, things will get a lot worse. We can take out our stress on one another–like what happened–and maybe get buried alive. Or we can focus our minds on something compelling— . . . We can each tell an important story from our lives. . . Everyone has a story,” said Uma, relieved that one of them was considering the idea. “I don’t believe anyone can go through life without encountering at least one amazing thing.”

So each of the nine people trapped in the unstable building tells his or her story. I thought the premise was genius, and the execution was good, too. I don’t care much for short stories, but these were knit together by the over-arching plot of nine people imprisoned in an office with possible death staring them in the face. The themes of the characters’ stories were inter-woven, too. The stories were all about thwarted desires and about what happens when we get what we think we want, but not what we really need or want.

What story would you tell if you were to tell about One Amazing Thing that had happened in your life?

I’m thinking about using this book in a high school World Literature class that I’m planning for next year. If you’ve read it, what do you think? Could high schoolers relate to the characters in the book? Wouldn’t it be a good introduction or exposure to colliding cultures and grace under pressure?

Do you have other reading suggestions for an 11-12th grade World Literature class?

2 thoughts on “One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni

  1. I decided to pop over here, because it’s been ages since I have!!

    I think it would be a perfect title for that class. I liked the book in parts more than as a whole, but the culture clash is exactly what stood out to me.

  2. I read the book last year and enjoyed it. I also think it would be a good book to read in a World Lit class, especially in the grade 11 – 12 class.

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