Interview - Chitra Divakaruni

Dr. Chitra Divakaruni was born in Kolkata, India on July 29, 1956. At age nineteen, she moved from India to the United States to pursue her master’s degree from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and she completed her Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in 1985. In graduate school, Dr. Divakaruni worked many odd jobs to earn money, including laboratory assistant, babysitter, and graduate teaching assistant. Dr. Divakaruni currently teaches as the Betty and Gene McDavid Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Houston, and she has previously taught at Foothill College and Diablo Valley College as well. In addition to her career in academia, Professor Divakaruni is involved with several nonprofits.

She co-founded Maitri and serves on the advisory board of Daya, two organizations dedicated to combating intimate partner violence and promoting conflict resolution for South Asian and South Asian-American women. Dr. Divakaruni’s fiction and poetry have received national acclaim; she has been honored with the American Book Award, the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize, and the Pushcart Prize among other accolades. Several of her works have been adapted into films and television series. Dr. Divakaruni often draws inspiration from traditional Indian culture and literature for her writing, which varies in form from poetry to novels to short stories to operas. She currently lives with her husband, Murthy, and has two adult sons, Anand and Abhay.

View interview transcript PDFFull interview materials on Rice Digital Scholarship