The daughter of a poor sweet-maker in rural Bengal, India, Sabitri yearns to get an education. However, her family’s situation makes college an impossible dream. Then an influential woman from Kolkata takes Sabitri under her wing, but her generosity curdles after a single, unforgiveable misstep. Years later, Sabitri’s daughter, Bela, haunted by her mother’s choices, flees to America with her political refugee lover, only to find the country—and love—vastly different from her imaginings. Forced to forge her own path, Bela unwittingly imprints her own child, Tara, with dangerous lessons about adulthood that will take a lifetime to unlearn.
In her latest novel, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni explores the relationships between mothers and daughters, and the different kinds of love that bind us across generations. Before We Visit the Goddess captures the gorgeous complexity of these multi-generational and transcontinental bonds, sweeping across the twentieth century from the countryside of Bengal, India, to the streets of Houston, Texas—an extraordinary journey told through a sparkling symphony of male and female voices.
"Tender, bittersweet, beautifully wrought tales about love and longing, exile and loneliness. I was reminded of the songs of separation sung by Bhojpuri women: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni discovers new nuances in the ‘biraha’ that creeps into the lives of migrants." -- Amitabh Ghosh, author of The Glass Palace and Sea of Poppies.
"I will never forget Sabitri, Bela, and Tara: grandmother, mother, and daughter after my own heart. Chitra Divakaruni cycles through generations of time, until we come to know our ancestresses - and the goddess. A lovely book." -- Maxine Hong Kingston, author of The Woman Warrior and China Men