Readers had and have always appreciated Divakaruni's bestselling short story collection,“Arranged Marriage”. “Leaving Yuba City” is an anthology of poetry, which deals with different perspectives of India and the Indian experience in the United States of America. Starting from the adventures of going to a convent school in India,which was run by Irish nuns (while growing up in Darjeeling) to the history of the earliest Indian immigrants in the America.
“The Walk” one of poems, describe the growing up years,
“Each Sunday evening the nuns took us
for a walk. We climbed carefully
in our patent-leather shoes up hillsides looped
with trails the color of earthworms. Below,
the school fell away, the sad green roofs
of the dormitories, the angled classrooms,
the refectory where we learned to cut
buttered bread into polite squares,
to eat bland stews and puddings. The sharp
metallic thrust of the church spire, small, then smaller,
and around it the town: bazaar, post office, the scab”
The book contains different groups of interlinked poems that arecategorized into six sections,and are peopled by some of the same characters and explore a range of similar and dissimilar themes. Before writing novels and stories, Chitrawas more interested in poetry writing, and also about exploring different art forms that can inspire each other.
One section, “Indian Miniatures”, is based a series of Francesco Clemente’s paintings. Another section, namely,“Moving Pictures”, is based on Indian films, including Mira Nair's "Salaam Bombay" and Satyajit Ray's "Ghare Baire." Photographs by Raghubir Singh led to the emergence of the section,“Rajasthani”. The trials and tribulations of growing up and immigration are also considered here. And, as generally seen with all of Divakaruni's writing, these poems are aboutdifferent experiences of the women and their struggles to find their own identities. This collection of poems has a unique appeal and a different charm. Her poems entail a wider range of subjects and themes, including that of myths, art, history, etc. as she is more inclined towards such topics. The experience of an immigrant and of being South Asian, Chitra focuses on the joys and hardships of the women, who are intending to find their own soul, own identity.
“The Infirmary” part I, she talks about her school days, while also describing the landscape,
“A nun in front and one behind, we filed,
across the compound to the low brown building
crouched among jhau trees. And at the door, waiting,
Sister Mary Lourdes, her habit
stiff as pages in a new book, her hard white hands
smelling of carbolic soap.”
This book is unique for various reasons, now you might have understood. But through these poems, Chitra portrays the uniqueness in its own existence and diversified beauty. She shows how boundaries can diminish or be destroyed since different art forms are not exactly different entities, but each art form influences the other art form. She starts the book with incrediblyexpressiveauras of the childhood, then moves on to imaginative and compelling poems that are mostly inspired by the photographs of Raghubir Singh, paintings by Francesco Clemente, and films by Indian directors. In the final section of the book, she drops a hue of dramaby circumscribing the lives of mistreated Punjab farmers, who hademigrated early in that century to the Yuba City, California. The writing style adopted by her is strongly narrative, immensely detailed, and emotionally acute, so much wonderful to stay with you.
The poems from thebook, “Leaving Yuba City” have won a Pushcart Prize, an Allen Ginsberg prize and a Gerbode Foundation award.One of the poems in this collection, "Woman with Kite," has been chosen by filmmaker Yunah Hong for her documentary film, Between the Lines: Asian American Women's Poetry. The film also includes an interview with Divakaruni. This 20-year-old book still continues to mesmerize the readers and give them a raw essence that era.
Available on: Amazon India Price: INR 890 (Paperback)