Banerjee, Anjali

views updated

Banerjee, Anjali

PERSONAL: Born in Calcutta, West Bengal, India; married. Education: University of California, Berkeley, degrees (anthropology and psychology).

ADDRESSES: Home—Pacific Northwest. Agent—Winifred Golden, Castiglia Literary Agency, 1155 Camino Del Mar, Ste. 510, Del Mar, CA 92014. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer.

MEMBER: Authors Guild, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Children's Booksellers Association, Romance Writers of America, Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English, Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Pacific Northwest Booksellers' Association, Whidbey Island Writers Association.

AWARDS, HONORS: Book of the Year Award, ThaBiz.com, 2005, for Imaginary Men.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

Imaginary Men, Downtown Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Maya Running (for young adults), Wendy Lamb Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Rani and the Fashion Divas, Wizards of the Coast (Renton, WA), 2005.

The Silver Spell, Wizards of the Coast (Renton, WA), 2005.

Invisible Lives, Downtown Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Looking for Bapu, Wendy Lamb Books (New York, NY), 2006.

OTHER

Contributor to periodicals, including Nerve, Green Hills Literary Lantern, and Lynx Eye. Contributor to anthology New to North America: Writing by Immigrants, Their Children, and Grandchildren, and to three regional history books.

SIDELIGHTS: Author Anjali Banerjee was born in India but raised in Canada and the United States. Her upbringing in rural Manitoba informs her young-adult novel Maya Running, the story of a girl who is the only Asian middle-school student in her small Canadian town. She feels out of place, not Canadian enough to fit in with her classmates and not Indian enough to feel completely comfortable with her family, either. Then her cousin Pinky arrives from Asia. Wearing saris and appearing authentically Indian, Pinky wins the attention of everyone in the school, including a boy Maya finds attractive. Pinky brings with her a small statue of Ganesh, the Hindu elephant god. Ganesh talks to Maya and grants her wishes; and so she pleads with him that all obstacles standing between her and her desires be taken away. Ganesh grants her request, and soon Maya finds that she is graceful, popular, has a closet full of stylish clothing, and no longer has braces on her teeth. Even so, Maya also learns that having everything she thinks she wants does not necessarily guarantee her happiness. Eventually, after much time and travel, she learns some truths about herself and her culture. A Publishers Weekly writer called the book "an often touching debut novel that should appeal to readers who have ever felt torn between two cultures." Kliatt reviewer Claire Rosser also considered the story to be "delightful."

In her more adult novel Imaginary Men, Banerjee opens with a wedding scene in India. Lina, the matchmaker who is responsible for introducing the newlyweds to each other, is unmarried herself, and her relatives are determined to find her a groom. Uncomfortable with the pressure to wed, Lina falsely claims that she is already engaged, dreaming up a perfect fiancée for herself. Complications ensue, including a real romance with a wealthy member of Indian royalty who is already promised in marriage to someone else. Lina and her new love must decide whether they will follow their hearts or do what is expected of them in order to please their families. "The insights into Bengali culture are interesting," remarked a Kirkus Reviews writer, the critic nevertheless faulting the writing as "uneven." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called Banerjee's style "workmanlike," but rated the book overall as "a quick, enjoyable read." Imaginary Men was also recommended by Rebecca Vnuk in Library Journal, who called it "a light, romantic tale with an authentic ethnic twist."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Maya Running, p. 601.

Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2005, review of Maya Running, p. 116; August 15, 2005, review of Imaginary Men, p. 865.

Kliatt, January, 2005, Claire Rosser, review of Maya Running, p. 6.

Library Journal, August 1, 2005, Rebecca Vnuk, review of Imaginary Men, p. 64.

Publishers Weekly, March 21, 2005, review of Maya Running, p. 52; August 15, 2005, review of Imaginary Men, p. 31.

School Library Journal, January, 2005, Maria B. Salvadore, review of Maya Running, p. 122.

ONLINE

Anjali Banerjee Home Page, http://www.anjalibanerjee.com (November 11, 2005).

Best Reviews, http://thebestreviews.com/ (September 15, 2005), review of Imaginary Men.

BookLoons, http://www.bookloons.com/ (November 11, 2005), Marie Hashima Lofton, review of Imaginary Men.

BookPage, http://www.bookpage.com/ (December 28, 2005), Belinda Anderson, review of Imaginary Men.

Curled Up with a Good Book, http://www.curledup.com/ (November 11, 2005), review of Imaginary Men.

Fresh Fiction, http://www.freshfiction.com/ (December 28, 2005), Meghan Fryett, review of Imaginary Men.

Olympian Online, http://www.theolympian.com/ (November 11, 2005), Barbara McMichael, review of Imaginary Men.