Top books by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: Recasting female icons in Indian Mythology

Chitra Banerjee’s books question the place women have in a male-dominated society. Read more about her top books here.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni has mastered many forms of writing- poetry, mythological retellings, essays and stories. Her fiction explores history and magical realism with a strong undercurrent of feminism. It deals largely with the experiences of South Asian women and immigrants. She has written many books among Sister of My Heart, Oleander Girl, Palace of Illusions, and One Amazing Thing.  Also, Her books have all been adapted into movies and television dramas. Her short story collection, Arranged Marriage, won the American Book Award in 1995. 

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s writing focuses on giving a voice to women’s perspectives in Indian Mythology. Her writing sheds new light on the fierce female characters of Indian Scriptures.  Feminist women writers such as Mahasweta Devi and Ismat Chughtai influenced have inspired Chitra’s writings. 

Watch the Interview:  Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni : Changing the Perspective | The Last Queen

The must-read books authored by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni are:

The Forest of Enchantments: A Feminist Retelling of Ramayana

The Forest of Enchantments is the story of misunderstood women of Ramayana and their trials and tribulations. It sheds new light on the women who are shadowed or silenced in the epic. They are portrayed as helpless and weak women, or as evil and wicked women. The Forest of Enchantments rejects those patriarchal notions around the character of women by giving a voice to Sita, Mandodari, Surpanakha and many others.  It depicts women’s struggle to retain autonomy in a male-dominated world. The book questions women's place in a patriarchal society.

The Last Queen: The Empowering Story of Rani Jindan Kaur

The Last Queen tells the inspiring story of a young and fierce woman who became a revolutionary. Queen Jindar Kaur was born into the family of the royal dog keeper. Society considered her an ill match for the high status of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. However, she was Maharaja’s favourite queen. She had a strong sense of individuality and a fierce personality. Chitra Banerjee’s novel is a compelling tale of a king and a common but bold woman. It is a story of loyalty and betrayal. Divakaruni’s captivating novel brings to life one of the strongest women of the nineteenth century. 

The Palace of Illusions: Redefining women’s roles in Indian mythology

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni presents us with a feminist portrait of Mahabharata and Panchaali in The Palace of Illusions. Panchaali is the wife of the legendary five Pandavas. And she is trapped in the crossfires of their battle for power and kingdom. She is forced to stay at their side through years of exile. The book explores Panchaali’s complicated friendship with Krishna. The Palace of Illusions also reveals Panchaali's secret desire to be with the Pandavas’ sworn enemy, Karna. Divakaruni chronicles the painful sacrifices Panchaali had to make as a woman. Chitra Banerjee retells the Hindu Epic from the perspective of a fierce and strong female protagonist in this compelling read.
Speaker | Personality Details
Chitra Banerjee Devakaruni
Author | Website

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning and bestselling author, poet, activist and teacher of writing. Her work has been published in over 50 magazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker, and her writing included in over 50 anthologies, including Best American Short Stories,  O.Henry Prize Stories and the Pushcart Prize Anthology.

Her book of short stories, Arranged Marriage,  won an American Book Award, the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award and the PEN Josephine Miles Award for fiction. 

She writes prose and poetry encompassing a wide variety of themes, with much focus on the immigrant experience of South Asian women and Indian history, mythology and retellings. She shows the experiences and struggles involved in women trying to find their own identities.She urges women to come out and tell their own stories, re-writing history that has always unfairly glorified men.

In Mythology, she has written the Palace of Illusions and the Forest of Enchantments.   A complete list of works can be seen on Good Reads