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“One Amazing Thing” by Chitra Banarjee Divakaruni is an intriguing novel intertwining nine complex characters and their stories. Drawn together when an earthquake traps them in the basement of the Indian Consulate in an unnamed American city, the characters collectively focus on their struggle to survive.

The electricity is out, water slowly begins to rise in the basement and the survivors think they smell gas. One of the characters, a graduate student who has been reading Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” while waiting to get a visa, suggests that they each tell a personal tale, an amazing thing from his or her life that they have never told to anyone. From these stories, the reader gains a deeper understanding of what frightens, motivates and perhaps, defines each character. Every story is compelling, but some more than others.

The author uses identity, class struggle and storytelling as a way of healing and coping in the face of crisis. The value of each character’s story is heightened by the progress of the disaster when survival becomes an issue. Their shared storytelling, however, helps the characters survive the experience. Ms. Divakaruni has
written nine brave and fascinating tales carefully woven together in this gripping
little novel.