Before We Visit the Goddess: A Novel

Chitra Divakaruni

Simon & Schuster, 2016

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

A beautiful, powerful new novel from the bestselling, award-winning author of Sister of My Heart and The Mistress of Spices about three generations of mothers and daughters who must discover their greatest source of strength in one anothera masterful, brilliant tale of a family both united and torn apart by ambition and love.

The daughter of a poor baker in rural Bengal, India, Sabitri yearns to get an education, but her family's situation means college is an impossible dream. Then an influential woman from Kolkata takes Sabitri under her wing, but her generosity soon proves dangerous after the girl makes a single, unforgiveable misstep. Years later, Sabitris own daughter, Bela, haunted by her mother's choices, flees abroad with her political refugee lover but the America she finds is vastly different from the country she'd imagined. As the marriage crumbles and Bela is forced to forge her own path, she unwittingly imprints her own child, Tara, with indelible lessons about freedom, heartbreak, and loyalty that will take a lifetime to unravel.

In her latest novel, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni explores the complex relationships between mothers and daughters, and the different kinds of love that bind us across generations. Before We Visit the Goddess captures the gorgeous complexity of these multi-generational and transcontinental bonds, sweeping across the twentieth century from the countryside of Bengal, India, to the streets of Houston, Texas an extraordinary journey told through a sparkling symphony of voices.


• #1 Bestseller Asian Age's national bestseller list
• Noteworthy April Books by Kirkus Reviews
USA Today deemed it "New & Noteworthy"
• Selected as one of the titles to be honored on the 2017 Amelia Bloomer List


“[Divakaruni] balances the ache of separation with the thrills of independence and self-discovery. [Divakaruni’s] characteristic passion, nerve and insight into the troubled soul are here in full.”
Wall Street Journal

“Three generations of Indian women struggle with the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters. In a novel spanning India and the United States over 60 years, richly drawn characters negotiate the desire for education against family obligations and romantic entanglements…Divakaruni's novel explores the moments that reverberate across generations as well as the quiet erosions of culture that happen over time …A novel of quiet but deeply affecting moments.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Three generations of headstrong Bengali women, their passions, secrets, regrets and mysteries, come to life through Divakaruni’s storytelling wizardry…Divakaruni brings us from the poor villages to the upper crust urban families, from India to Texas, to show how three courageous women struggle toward independence.”
BBC Culture

“The always enchanting and enlightening Divakaruni (Oleander Girl, 2013) spins another silken yet tensile saga about the lives of women in India and as immigrants in America[…] Gliding back and forth across the decades and dramatizing in every episode a life-changing encounter, Divakaruni tells each rebellious and stoic woman’s heartrending story of risk-all passion, crushing disappointment, disastrous misunderstandings, and deep wells of strength […] Divakaruni’s gracefully insightful, dazzlingly descriptive, and covertly stinging tale illuminates the opposition women must confront, generation by generation, as they seek both independence and connection.”
Booklist (starred)
"Before We Visit the Goddess is universal - a story of mothers and daughters, misunderstanding and sacrifice, success and independence. . . . [A] sweet, piercing blend that - like sugar, fruit and saffron - forms a dazzling, memorable novel."
Houston Chronicle
“Prolific Indian-American novelist [Divakaruni] proves herself adept with all the tools in the writer’s toolbox…In her latest novel, Divakaruni makes use of two major writerly tools that seldom go together—tragic drama, and screwball comedy. [Divakaruni] finds entirely fresh ways to mete out the tropes of the South Asian immigrant story…She adopts a prismatic approach that’s much more fun to read [and] generates a novelistic momentum that carries from story to story, chapter to chapter.”
Miami Herald
“A novel about female strength and ambition and how one mother’s decision can affect the lives of her family for generations to come.”