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One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni

One Amazing Thing (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Chitra Divakaruni

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59711416,431 (3.63)95
Title:One Amazing Thing
Authors:Chitra Divakaruni
Info:Voice (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Lakewood Village Life

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One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (2009)


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Nine people, nine stories, one disaster that what this book is about. Towards the end of a normal work day, there are nine people remaining in the basement of the Indian Consulate waiting for their Visas. An old Chinese woman and her granddaughter, an angry young Muslim man, a guilt-ridden soldier, a middle-aged couple going through their own problems, a young Indian girl, the Visa officer, and his assistant.

An earthquake wrecks havoc in their lives. Trapped in the basement, they group together to survive. Like in any dire situation, people tend to turn against each other, that’s what happens here as well. Once things are more peaceful and all frustration is vented out, the soldier suggests asks each of them to tell an important story from their lives – the one amazing thing that they experienced.

As each of them narrates their own tale, the others think of things that call to them about the story or something that the story reminded them of. They come to realize that these emotions that they experience - of hatred, desolation, jealousy, love and heartbreak, guilt - these are all experienced by others as well. Like Tariq says, “Now, I don’t feel so alone.”

Like in her usual style, [a:Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni|51589|Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1238090182p2/51589.jpg] leaves us guessing as to how the story as a whole and each individual’s tale ends.

I wouldn’t say it is her best work, but it is definitely worth a read.

You can read a detailed review of it here. ( )
  JayasreeB | Dec 21, 2016 |
This is a great book by a great author. There are so many life lessons throughout I can't even begin to list them. I strongly recommend it.
My favorite quote in the book is:
“Everyone has a story. I don’t believe anyone can go through life without encountering at least one amazing thing.” ( )
  LaurieLin | Mar 6, 2016 |

When an earthquake strikes, nine people are trapped in the basement of the Indian consulate: an upper-class Caucasian couple with a troubled marriage, a young Muslim-American man with a tendency to act rashly, a graduate student whose parents have returned to India, an African-American Vietnam veteran, a Chinese grandmother with a secret along with her punk-rock teenage granddaughter, and two visa office workers.

I was immediately caught up in the “present day” story of these nine people trapped in a basement. I liked the way that the author revealed their strengths and weaknesses as they acted / reacted to the situation. Who was selfish, or brave, or took charge, or retreated. But when Uma suggests that they pass the time by each telling “one amazing thing” from his/her life, the story arc lost some momentum, and it became more of a collection of short stories.

I don’t mind this too much, because I love short stories, and Divakaruni writes them well. However, this sort of hybrid between a short story collection and a novel seemed a little awkward. I was enthralled and interested in both the story of nine people trapped by the earthquake, and in the characters back stories. What each chose to reveal to these strangers, while fearing they would die together, told much about them as individuals. I have to admit it made me wonder what episode of my life I would tell in such circumstances.

One final note: the city in the book is unnamed, but apparently San Francisco. There are references to cable cars and being “by the bay.” Additionally, there IS an Indian consulate (where one would go for a visa) in San Francisco. And, of course, it is a city with a history of earthquakes.
( )
1 vote BookConcierge | Jan 14, 2016 |
The first thought that popped into my head as I read the synopsis was 'The Decameron'. For those of you who haven't read it, 'The Decameron' is about a group of people in ancient Italy? who flee to the mountains in order to escape the black plague, they then tell each other stories. That just seemed like it was so similar to this book, not a bad thing at all, it take guts to write a book stringing stories well together.

I liked this book for it's premise mostly. 'One Amazing Thing' started out a bit slow and then progressed a bit only to take a cliff dive off the deep end. Once the characters started to tell their stories, the whole book seemed to lose a bit of focus, and in turn as a reader, so did I. The characters were well thought of and the author did an excellent job putting these characters together in one place, and also with the choosing of the character's backgrounds. I just never felt that hook that draws you head first into a story. 'One Amazing Thing' was just ok, in my opinion. I still love the idea of the book though and it has an excellent theme; I'll let you figure it out for yourself. ( )
  rosetyper9 | Nov 12, 2015 |
When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping these nine characters together, their focus first jolts to their collective struggle to survive. There's little food. The office begins to flood. Then, at a moment when the psychological and emotional stress seems nearly too much for them to bear, the young graduate student suggests that each tell a personal tale, "one amazing thing" from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. And as their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval, and self-discovery unfold against the urgency of their life-or-death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself.
  pj100pl | Sep 28, 2014 |
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We create stories and stories create us. It is a rondo.
--Chinua Achebe

If no one knows you, then you are no one.
--Dan Chaon
To my three men
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When the first rumble came, no one in the visa office, down in the basement of the Indian consulate, thought anything of it.
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Late afternoon in a passport and visa office in California, nine people are in the office when an earthquake rips through the building trapping these nine together struggling to survive.

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Hyperion and Voice

2 editions of this book were published by Hyperion and Voice.

Editions: 1401340997, 1401341586

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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