The Mistress of Spices

The Mistress of Spices

Paperback

By (author) Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

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  • Publisher: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback | 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 106mm x 174mm x 54mm | 580g
  • Publication date: 5 February 1998
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 055299670X
  • ISBN 13: 9780552996709
  • Sales rank: 60,460

Product description

Tilo, an immigrant from India, runs an Indian spice shop in Oakland, California. While she dispenses the classic ingredients for curries and kormas, she also helps her customers to gain a more precious commodity: whatever they most desire. For Tilo is a Mistress of Spices, a priestess of the secret, magical powers of spices. Through those who visit and revisit her shop - Ahuja's wife, caught in an unhappy, abusive marriage; Jagjit, the victim of racist attacks at school; the noisy bougainvillaea girls, rejecting the strict upbringing of their tradition-bound Indian parents; Haroun who drives a taxi and dreams the American dream - we get a glimpse into the life of the local Indian expatriate community. To each Tilo dispenses wisdom and the appropriate spice: coriander for sight; turmeric to erase wrinkles; cinnamon for finding friends; fenugreek to make a rejected wife desirable again; chillies for the cleansing of evil. But when a lonely American comes into the store, a troubled Tilo cannot find the right spice, for he arouses in her a forbidden desire, and following her own desires will destroy her magical powers. Compelling and lyrical, full of heady scents and with more than a touch of humour, this novel explores the clash between East and West even as it unveils the universal mysteries of the human heart.

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Author information

Born in India, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni lives near San Francisco with her husband and two children. She teaches creative writing at a local college, and is the coordinator for a helpline for South Asian women. She is the author of several award-winning volumes of poetry, as well as Arranged Marriage, her acclaimed collection of short stories, a bestseller in America and winner of the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Prize for fiction, an American Book Award, and the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award for fiction. She is also the author of two novels, The Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart.

Review quote

"For ARRANGED MARRIAGE, 'As irresistible as the impulse which leads her characters to surface to maturity, raising their heads above the floods of silver ignorance'" New York Times Book Review

Editorial reviews

A mystery story, whose plot is directed by everyday spices. (Kirkus UK)