Culture

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and her Last Queen

In her latest work, Chitra Divakaruni has lifted Maharani Jindan, an Indian freedom fighter from relative obscurity to international fame.

Divakaruni – an author, poet and a professor of writing at the University of Houston – has won many accolades, including an American Book Award. Among Divakaruni’s book-to-screen adaptations have been “Sister of My Heart” and the 2005 movie, “The Mistress Of Spices,” co-scripted by director Gurinder Chadha and starring Aishwarya Rai and Dylan McDermott.

Chitra Divakaruni’s latest novel, “The Last Queen,” published by William Morrow/HarperCollins, will be out in the US, May 10. There have been talks of a movie script as the book went on to win some early awards: the Best Fiction 2022 Award from the Times of India AUTHER Awards, and Best Book 2022 Award from the International Association of Working Women. It is long-listed for the Dublin Literary Award and the Publishing Next Fiction Award.

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Museum Musings

If you like to see a city under the lens of art, culture, history and food, the best way would be to visit a museum. And if you are in America, you will never be disappointed with the variety of museums. We list seven of the must-see museums in the USA here.

National Gallery of Art – Washington D.C.

Started in 1937, this is a space dedicated to European and American art and is located near Capitol Hill. The space was donated by patron Paul Mellon, the art coming from his personal collection. You can see the works of artists like Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet and Dégas among more than 2,600 works. If you seek to learn more about European paintings, Italian Renaissance paintings and the works of masters of Florentine and Venetian art, this is the place to go. The best part is that it is free to visitors. Washington has some world-class museums, such as the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Museum of Natural History, among many others.

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THE TALES OF SAMIRA AHMED AND HER REVOLUTIONARY GIRLS

Reading Samira Ahmed, you would expect her to be someone who’s always been a published writer, as if she’d tumbled out of the womb creating historic and phenomenal characters and storylines. But it turns out, she published her first book at 46, after a long and rewarding career involving teaching high school English, working for non-profits and even fighting for equitable funding in NY’s public schools as a lobbyist. “Love, Hate, & Other Filters” was an instant bestseller.

Ahmed is the first South Asian Muslim woman to voice Kamala Khan, Marvel’s first Muslim superheroine. Like Ms. Marvel, her signature characters have always been revolutionary girls. Her “revolutionary girls,” as she calls them, represent an archetype of strength, insight and compassion, are usually Muslim and often Indian American.

Revolutionary girls don’t necessarily take up arms…sometimes the revolutionary girl is just taking control when others are falling down. And sometimes it means standing up for yourself when others want to muffle you.

Samira Ahmed

Ahmed ‘s latest young adult novel, “Hollow Fires” (on sale May 10, 2022; ages 12+), taps into the current and timely conversation about racism and its dangers and the terrible costs of misinformation. A topic so delicate and polarizing blooms fully through an innovative storyline and lyrical prose.

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