Bestselling author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni enchanted her audience April 28 at the 2017 Mansfield Reads! Author Event. The lecture, considered by many long-time Reads attendees among the best in the program’s long history, is now available for viewing on the city’s YouTube channel or at the Friends of the Mansfield Public Library website.
Mansfield Reads! is a free program organized by the Friends group to encourage the community to read the same book at the same time. This year’s selection was Divakaruni’s 2013 novel “Oleander Girl.”
Addressing the engaged crowd at the Mansfield Public Library, Divakaruni talked about how she got started as a writer, “Oleander Girl” and her latest novel “Before We Visit the Goddess.”
While Divakaruni knew she wanted to teach literature from a young age, she did not think she would be a writer.
“I did not think that I had a story to tell that anyone would be interested in,” said Divakaruni, who grew up in Kolkata in a traditional Bengali family. “I thought my life is just like everyone else’s.”
But Divakaruni realized a few things after she immigrated to America and started attending graduate school.
“I was wrong in that everyone does a have a story to tell. Because all our lives are unique and meaningful and special,” she said. “We just have to find the language and the way – the method – to tell the story so that it will touch other people.”
The other realization was that “immigration is one of the greatest adventures that we go through.” She found it to be a worthwhile journey to tell and set about learning how to articulate it in a meaningful way.
Divakaruni also touched on how sharing experiences strengthens our community, which is one thing the Friends of the Library hope to achieve through Mansfield Reads!
“Each one of us has a story and listening to each other’s stories and sharing our story is really important, and I hope you will find more and more opportunities to do so because that’s what brings us together as a community,” she said. “And sometimes a citywide book read can be that vehicle because as we read the same book, we can connect it to our own experiences and then talk about our lives with other people in that context.”