Adjudged the Seattle Times best paperbacks of 1998, The Mistress Of Spices tells the story of Tilo, an Indian immigrant running an Indian spice shop in Oakland, who uses her inborn gift to help people through the mystical healing powers of her spices, and what happens when those powers are challenged when she falls in love with an American stranger.
Summary Of The Book
Set in California, The Mistress Of Spices revolves around Tilo, an Indian immigrant running a store that sells exotic spices to customers for their curries. However, she possesses mysterious healing powers that enable her to help people achieve their innermost desires, through the magic of her spices. A rich cast of characters like Mrs. Ahuja, a battered and abused wife, Haroun, a taxi driver who came to America to live the American dream, the garrulous bunch of girls who rebel against their narrow-minded traditional Indian parents, and Jagjit, who faces vicious attacks of racism in school, take us through the kaleidoscopic experiences of Indian immigrant life in the United States.
Tilo dispels her wisdom along with her spices to her customers, curing them of their ailments and troubles. Some of her remedies are turmeric for erasing wrinkles, fenugreek for making a woman desirable to her husband, cinnamon for making friends, chillies for getting rid of evil, and so on. One day, a handsome American walks into her shop, and stirs within her, a sea of forbidden desires. Unable to find the appropriate spice to help him, she realises that her strong feelings would ultimately destroy her magical powers.
The Mistress of Spices was very well received, featuring on the Los Angeles Times Best Books list in 1997, and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. It was adapted into a major Hollywood movie of the same name, in 2005, starring Aishwarya Rai and Dylan McDermott.
About Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an Indian-American novelist and poet based in the US. Some of her novels are Arranged Marriage: Stories, Queen of Dreams, The Conch Bearer, The Palace of Illusions, One Amazing Thing, and Oleander Girl. She writes mostly about the experiences of Indian immigrants in America, much like herself. Though she has written stories for children, her books, written in genres of realistic or historical fiction, fantasy, and magical realism are meant primarily for an adult audience.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni was born in Calcutta in 1956. After completing her BA from the University of Calcutta, she left for the US to pursue higher education, earning a Master’s degree and later, a Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley. Her stories/poems have been published in as many as 50 magazines and translated into many foreign languages. The winner of numerous awards and honours during the course of her illustrious career, including the prestigious American Book Award (1995), the Allen Ginsberg Award and Light of India Jury’s Award for Journalism and Literature (2011). She lives in Texas with her family and works at the University of Houston.
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