Review Room

Book reviews and miscellanous thoughts

Book Author Event : 5 great authors and their books!

Written By: amodini - Jul• 19•13

Oleander Girl: A NovelI had the pleasure of attending a Book Event on June 30th, a Sunday afternoon where we got to hear from four different female authors. There was Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni with her recent book “The Oleander Girl”, Saborna Roychowdhury with her book “The Distance” which is soon to have it’s US release, Sweta Srivastava Vikram with one book on fiction, and three books on poetry and Joyce Yarrow with her new mystery novel.

Chitra Divakaruni, an award-winning author, professor and Houston resident, read from “The Oleander Girl” and talked about the inspirations for her many books. It was a pleasure hearing from a great writer who also spoke so engagingly.

The DistanceSweta Srivastav Vikram, an award-winning writer based in New York City, read a passage from her novel “Perfectly Untraditional” and several poems from “Kaleidoscope: An Asian Journey of Colors”, “Beyond the Scent of Sorrow” and “Because All is Not Lost”. She also spoke about her time in the US, her life and inspiration for her work and related anecdotes, with a well-timed sense of humor; she appears to be the rarest of the rare – a funny female desi writer.

Seattle-based Joyce Yarrow, a Pushcart nominee, came next and talked about the creation of her book’s protagonist Jo Epstein (a poet/investigator) and read from her latest book “The Last Matryoshka” (Istoria Books 2012).

Kaleidoscope: An Asian Journey of Colors (World Voices)Yarrow also presented a fascinating slide-set showing us pictures of her travel to Russia where she did her research for the book.

Saborna Roychowdhury, a Pushcart Prize nominee and Houston resident, came last and she and her husband read from her book “The Distance”. “The Distance” is being released in the US via Istoria Books, and it has a beautiful new cover with this edition.  Roychowdhury read protagonist Mimi’s lines very expressively (you could see the emotion on her face), while her husband read the male voices of Mimi’s ex-lover Amitabho and husband Neel. Very interesting!

The Last Matryoshka (Five Star Mystery Series)After the reading the authors took questions, and there were quite a few. When asked whether they preferred typing to handwriting while at work, most of them preferred to hand-write to facilitate the flow of writing. When asked about the schedules they set for themselves when writing, Roychowdhury said it best when she talked of forcing herself to write daily even when weighed down by other work and concerns.

I asked them what they all thought of the preponderance of “arranged marriages” in most novels by female desi authors. Vikram said that that was what she saw around her.

Six Weeks to YehidahYes, she said we were all liberal, but that was what was happening around. Maybe we didn’t do the clichéd stereotypical “girl-viewings” but arranged marriages were a part of life and culture and society (I’m paraphrasing here, but hopefully the essence of her reply is clear). Divakaruni’s response was calm and measured and got quickly to the heart of the matter. Indeed she spoke so beautifully, I just wanted to sit there and listen to her talk.

It was a lovely afternoon, and I truly appreciated the intimate setting where one could actually talk to the authors and hear their responses. The panel was very informal, and expertly moderated by Melissa Studdard, author of “Six Weeks to Yehidah”. I am glad to have learnt more about these authors and look forward to reading their books!

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  1. Thank you Amodini! It was a pleasure to do that event and to have you there. Thanks for the write-up. Best,


  2. Nikhil says:

    Nice post.
    Captivating blog indeed.
    Keep up the good work , Amodini!

  3. Thanks for inviting me to the event. Some of the book reviews can be read at my blog at

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