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One Amazing Thing

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  7,670 ratings  ·  1,306 reviews
An acclaimed novel by the author of The Mistress of Spices, and Before We Visit the Goddess. Jhumpa Lahiri praises: "One Amazing Thing collapses the walls dividing characters and cultures; what endures is a chorus of voices in one single room."

Late afternoon sun sneaks through the windows of a passport and visa office in an unnamed American city. Most customers and even m
Hardcover, 220 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Hachette Books (first published 2009)
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Lucie I hate books that end this way.

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Average rating 3.48  · 
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 ·  7,670 ratings  ·  1,306 reviews

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Tina Haigler
"When the first rumble came, no one in the visa office, down in the basement of the Indian consulate, thought anything of it."

I have to say, this was a little underwhelming to me. What I expected was several awe-filled stories. That is not what this book contained. A few were decently sad. One was pretty funny. One I can't even remember, and another was just kind of there. I didn't think any of them were amazing. There was also one that the author didn't even bother to finish in an effort to lea
Jan 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
this is a delicate, almost fragile book, and it won't stay with you the way other books do. it will disintegrate in your memory and all you'll remember is that a bunch of people got stuck in a basement during a california earthquake and, in order to survive, swapped stories. the stories started off sluggish (who wants to tell stories?) but became terribly urgent as the day and night wore on. this is all you'll remember. you won't remember the stories.

the stories are not remarkable. they are not
Jun 25, 2010 rated it liked it
This is another book introduced to me through my book club. In short, nine people trapped in a crumbling building after an earthquake share stories about themselves to pass the time and distract themselves from the desperateness of their situation. In considering it, we read the synopsis and I remember thinking, "so is this supposed to be a kind of modern remake of The Canterbury Tales?" Then, sure enough, the character of the book that suggests the story-telling does so because she is a fan of ...more
Thanks to my book club for introducing this author to me. She is apparently known for her short stories, and this novel reads like a collection, and it is. The characters trapped together after an earthquake share their stories, share the one amazing thing in their lives.

The surprise to me is that for the most part the stories were not uplifting, nor amazing. They were stories of what was important to the storyteller, they were stories that were spoken aloud for the benefit of the teller, not
Mar 14, 2014 rated it liked it
One Amazing Thing shares with us how 9 strangers stuck in an earthquake riddled building that is slowly collapsing all around them, that there is hope, and comfort in stories. Each person shares "One Amazing Thing" from their lives.

Some of the stories were heartbreaking, all carried themes of guilt, sorrow, and acceptance. I wanted more from the stories. Instead, they all ended abruptly leavinig me wanting more depth from these characters. These stories could've been much more powerful to the r
Nov 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
Nine very diverse people, trapped in an office following an earthquake, decide to pass the time by recounting a special time in their lives. The stories are told one by one, not much is memorable about most of them, not much is amazing really, just the fact that each storyteller took away something of value from those times. Just everyday life. Interesting how the stories seemed to help in their collective struggle to get free from the collapsed building.
I expected to be more amazed. I do like
a short book, which I read in a day's time. I liked the initial half, but the second half was a bit drab. The theme revolves around 9 persons from different backgrounds and cultures stranded in the Indian Visa Office room after a massive earth quake which has managed to strand them in the room with collapsed structures all around. To while away the time and to keep from worrying, they start telling a personal story each, which gives us glimpses of their worlds. The concept is good, but somehow t ...more
Kieran Walsh
Apr 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
I was a little disappointed with this one. I've always enjoyed the idea of strangers sharing stories and the context here was a good one (random customers/employees of Indian consulate trapped in the basement office building after an earthquake). What was, I had hoped, a Scheherazade type of story series really ended up being, with the exception of one or two, a hodge podge of uninteresting recount of situations (stories, certainly not). For fictional purposes I think ordinary lives could have a ...more
Barbara H
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
I was impressed by the unusual and imaginative premise devised by Divakaruni almost immediately. The plot focuses on a group of unaquainted people who are trapped in a passport office following an earthquake. The author has expertly imparted the emotions and the actions of the nine characters involved.

In order to maintain a semblance of equilibrium and relieve stress among these survivors, it was suggested that each should relate a significant story in his/her life. Each narration was intriguin
Jun 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Mildly absorbing but incomplete, thus unsatisfying..., March 27, 2010

This review is from: One Amazing Thing (Hardcover)
After I finished the book I went back to the beginning again just to clarify how it all began. Found a second read of it more interesting. BUT, I hated the ending. It's what a consider a NON ending and thus leaves me as a reader very frustrated. I don't like reading books that make me have to try to guess what happened. If I wanted to write a story, I would. I expect the au
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Nine lives from nine different cultures with nine different stories are waiting for their VISA when the inevitable happens. Earthquake strikes to reduce their building into rubbles. Amidst the dampness in air, scarcity in food, depressing darkness and diminishing hope, they are opening up to share one amazing thing from their lives, one after the other.
Trust me, one amazing thing is one of the best book that I’ve read this year. None of the characters are unusual or super-man’ified.
They’re jus
Elevate Difference
Feb 04, 2010 rated it really liked it

One Amazing Thing is one amazing set of well-woven characters and stories. One scene, one event, one moment has drawn a complex set of diverse actors together in this novel, and Divakaruni does an excellent job of giving each character the perspective and depth that we need to not only listen to their voice, but to stand outside of them and see them as their companions on this journey do.

Set in a city-less visa office, a group of applicants waits for their turn to handle the bureaucracy required
Book Concierge

When an earthquake strikes, nine people are trapped in the basement of the Indian consulate: an upper-class Caucasian couple with a troubled marriage, a young Muslim-American man with a tendency to act rashly, a graduate student whose parents have returned to India, an African-American Vietnam veteran, a Chinese grandmother with a secret along with her punk-rock teenage granddaughter, and two visa office workers.

I was immediately caught up in the “present day” story of these nine people t
Susan Johnson
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. It is the story of nine people trapped in an office after an earthquake. It is the Indian consul and for various reasons they all have a connection to India. As they are trapped, the water is rising, the roof is collapsing and various other problems keep occurring.

As they wait for a rescue that may never come, they each tell a story from their past. It's called one amazing thing but the stories, by themselves, are not amazing. They are moments that change the course
Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: diverse, for-review
One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is a smattering of short stories within the context of a larger story. Basically an earth quake hits some town in California, so I think nine people are trapped in the Indian Consulate office. These people are all panicing and unhappy until Uma, a grad student who reads awesome books like The Canterbury Tales comes up with the idea to have all who are trapped share one amazing story from their lives.
Read the rest of my review here
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
This is another story that starts off with a great premise, but misses the mark in its execution. In this case the author uses Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales as her inspiration.
Here, the action takes place in San Francisco at the Indian Consulate.. As the day wears on, there is a sudden earthquake with aftershocks and 9 people - seven visa applicants and 2 consular employees - realize that they are trapped. There is panic and some physical injuries. At first, each person is wrapped up in hi
Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni opens with Uma, a Medieval Lit student and someone I could instantly connect to, sitting in the lobby of the Indian Consulate Building, waiting to get her Visa done. It is dull and slow, the employees in no hurry to get things done on time, a typical Indian office maintaining its charm even in the middle of America. There are a number of people there, a Chinese woman and her granddaughter, an African American man, an old couple, the Indian staff an ...more
Feb 14, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Nine strangers are in the Indian consulate's office of an American city to apply for visas for their trips to India when an earthquake strikes, leaving them all trapped together. The doorways are blocked, no escape is possible and amid rising water and increasing gas in the air, the sense of doom and panic among the survivors begins to increase. One of the strangers, Uma, an Indian-American woman, who coincidentally was reading The Canterbury Tales as the story opens, suggests that each of the n ...more
Jun 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned-books
One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I give it 3.5 stars. The story follows nine very diverse people, who get trapped in an office following an earthquake. Desperate, hopeless times call for strange reactions in people. Everyone reacts differently. This group decide to narrate stories about that One Amazing Thing in their lives. Surprisingly, the stories are like an everyday story...none of them that amazing or uplifting to the listener but so important and momentous to the speaker. ...more
Meegan McCorkle
Jan 03, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Would have been a five staarrer if not for the abstract ending.... Amazing read, very close to the situation at my place with flood ravaged homes and people in refugee camps.. Loved all the characters and their rawness..
... An earthquake leaves an unlikely mix of people isolated in a visa office.. To while away the time and to stop the stress from getting them into each other's throats...they each start telling a story one weaved from a time in their life.. A unique plot and brilliant writing.
Jan 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Wallace by: Voice (publisher)
The latest book sent to me from Hyperion/ Voice is called One Amazing Thing. I read half of the book today in just a little over an hour. At first, it was a bit hard to digest considering it is about a large earthquake that traps a motley crew of people in a basement of a visa office. In light of what is going on in the real world, this was not what I wanted to read. However, I became hooked. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is a talented writer, who's work (and this particular book) is touted by such ...more
Matthew Kozak
Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this novel. It is a character study, and I am the type who will go on almost any journey if I like the company enough (characters of books in this case).

The writing was eloquent, and the descriptions and imagery (of many items in the story - BUT - especially of the salon shop and of Indian cuisine that made me want to visit that country in particular) were puncturing.

I had not read anything by Chitra Divakaruni before, but I look forward to reading more of her work if given the
Dec 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
When a significant earthquake hits California, nine people are trapped in the India consulate office. Hours go by; hunger sets in; tempers and anxieties are high; food is pooled; aftershocks occur. As each of them awaits the worst, Uma suggests that they each tell a story of One Amazing Thing that each has witnessed in his/her life. This minor distraction helps to pass the time and forms bonds between these unlikely characters. As each person tells their story, Divakaruni succeeds in capturing a ...more
Jan 15, 2014 rated it liked it
This book is about the personal stories of nine people trapped in a basement in a visa office as they wait for either rescue or death. To keep themselves distracted from what has happened, they take turns telling one story about themselves that they feel is the most important to them at that time. And this leads to learning a little bit about each...yet enough to see what shapes their personalities. I like stories...this is why I read. And so this is a wonderful book that offers up one big story ...more
♞ Pat Gent
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: archives
This book reads like a collection of short stories tied together with an overlying setting. I think the whole of the book is about how our lives don't ever turn out like we plan and we end up making the best of whatever path we've chosen. Some of us are better equipped to be happy than others, some more resourceful, but each of us has at least "one amazing thing" that, when we look back over our lives, we can pick out and examine and say, "there. That was it..."

It's an easy read - I finished it
Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Everybody has a story, or maybe even one amazing thing that's happened to them. Amazing is not always a positive word, but it describes something that might have changed a life, or the course of one's story.

Some of the stories are heartbreaking, all of them paint a picture of the characters and why they may be who they have become. I think the author intentionally tells some of the stories so you are left wanting more. You have so many questions, want to know the outcome, how the central person
INGENIOUS. All character development with little action, and yet I was on the edge of my seat. Divakaruni writes with such detail, that I feel as if I saw a movie instead of read a book. So many incredibly unique, honest, and ridiculously well-developed characters that it's amazing she was able to make each one memorable. Also, she brought to life the disaster and fear of such an event. I thought, based on the title, that this would be telling the happy stories of each trapped character, but I w ...more
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, in-the-us
Good as far as it went. I felt questions with it’s ending and that kept me from giving it 4. I liked the premise and the scene was set very well. The writing was sweet and lyrical.

I’m not a fan of the having to come up with the rest of the story myself. When I read a book I want the whole package. However I would surely read another book of hers in future.

***read for summer reading program “author of color”.
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
In an unnamed American city, seven customers and two officials remained in the visa office of an Indian consulate, during the late afternoon, each lost in his or her own thoughts, when an earthquake struck. Amidst the chaos that follows, only one person, Cameron, an African-American ex-soldier retains his senses. He tries to calm the people down, and keep them away from the collapsed section of the office. Soon after, everyone's focus turns to survival. They try to scrape together as much food a ...more
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Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author and poet. Her themes include the Indian experience, contemporary America, women, immigration, history, myth, and the joys and challenges of living in a multicultural world. Her work is widely known, as she has been published in over 50 magazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker, and her writing has been included in over 50 ant ...more

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