Biography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Bharati Mukherjee was born in Calcutta, India, on July 27, 1940, the daughter of pharmaceutical chemist Sudhir Lal Mukherjee and his wife, Bina (née Barrerjee). Mukherjee’s was a comparatively wealthy Bengali Hindu Brahmin family, and during her early childhood they lived with their large extended family (numbering up to forty during wartime) in a flat in Ballygunge, a middle-class neighborhood of Calcutta. Life there was stable and somewhat insulated from the rough and tumble of Calcutta, but Mukherjee was aware of the homeless beggars roaming the streets, the funerals of freedom fighters during India’s struggle for independence from British imperial rule, and the Hindu-Muslim riots at the partition of India and Pakistan. She enjoyed the affection of a loving father (who was fond of his three daughters despite his society’s prevailing preference for sons), listened to the tales of her mother (“a powerful storyteller”), and feared the madness of an aunt.
When Mukherjee was eight, her father sent his three daughters to school in England and Switzerland. After three years of this experiment in European education, the sisters returned to Calcutta to live in a home set up within the compound of the pharmaceutical company partly owned by their father in suburban Cossipore. From there they attended a school staffed by Irish nuns; en route to...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Mukherjee’s short stories and novels bring unique insight and profundity to the immigration, expatriation, and assimilation of South Asians, especially South Asian women, in North America. She explores the effects of racism, sexism, violence, and human exploitation with consummate skill, measured realism, and moving drama. There is an implacable resentment of racism in her works, but there is also an implicit hope in the redeeming possibilities of love and in the positive aspects of United States society, in which individuals of color, even women of color, may realize their full humanity and empower themselves. Mukherjee’s artistry is characterized by her frequent use of irony, imagistic leitmotifs that grow into meaningful symbols, literary and mythological allusions, a supple and exuberant wielding of multiple American idioms, and acute psychological penetration into a wide assortment of characters.
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Biography (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
Bharati Mukherjee was born into a well-to-do, traditional Bengali Brahman family in the Calcutta suburb of Ballygunge on July 27, 1940. Her Hindu family’s affluence buffered them from the political crises of independence and partition that engulfed the Indian subcontinent in the 1940’s, and by the end of that troubled decade her father, Sudhir Lal Mukherjee, a chemist and the proprietor of a successful pharmaceutical company, had moved the family first to London (1948-1950) and then to Switzerland (1951) before returning them to India. Accordingly, Mukherjee explains, she and her two sisters (one older, one younger) “were born both too late and not late enough to be real Indians.” Her educational experiences abroad had made her fluent in English at an early age, so that once back in India she began attending Calcutta’s Loreto Convent School, an elite institution for girls run by Irish Catholic nuns, where she occasionally glimpsed Mother Teresa early in her ministry to the city’s poor. At the time, Mukherjee herself followed the habits of her caste and preferred to turn away from the misery on the streets around her rather than question or reflect upon it.
Neither did she consciously plan to deviate very far from the traditional path of Indian womanhood expected of her; even her early interest in becoming a writer, fed by an ever-expanding fascination with the European novels to which her travels and education had exposed her, was tolerated...
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Bharati Mukherjee was born to an upper-caste Bengali family and received an English education. The most important event of her life occurred in her early twenties, when she received a scholarship to attend the University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop. Her fiction reflects the experimental techniques fostered at such influential creative writing schools.
At the University of Iowa, Mukherjee met Clark Blaise, a Canadian citizen and fellow student. When they moved to Canada she became painfully aware of her status as a nonwhite immigrant in a nation less tolerant of newcomers than the United States. The repeated humiliations she endured made her hypersensitive to the plight of immigrants from the Third World. She realized that immigrants may lose their old identities but not be able to find new identities as often unwelcome strangers.
Mukherjee, relying on her experience growing up, sought her salvation in education. She obtained a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature and moved up the career ladder at various colleges and universities in the East and Midwest until she became a professor at Berkeley in 1989. Her first novel, The Tiger’s Daughter, was published in 1972. In common with all her fiction, it deals with the feelings of exile and identity confusion that are experienced by immigrants. Being female as well as an...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
Although born in India to parents of a Bengali Brahman (upper-class) caste, Bharati Mukherjee became a citizen of the world early in life. Born in July, 1940, to a father who was a prosperous pharmaceutical chemist and business owner and to a freethinking mother, both of whom wanted education and freedom of action for their daughters, Mukherjee experienced a rather cosmopolitan education. In 1947, after India won its independence from Great Britain, she was enrolled in boarding schools in England and Switzerland, where she perfected her English. Her native Bengali language and customs were marginalized by her educators, and she returned to Calcutta (now known as Kolkata) somewhat a cultural “outsider” to her native India. There she completed her secondary education at Loreto House, taught by Irish nuns.
Mukherjee continued her education, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Calcutta and a master’s degree in both English and ancient Indian culture at the University of Baroda (1961). Subsequently, she was part of the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa and began her literary and teaching career, the latter of which included positions at Marquette University in Milwaukee, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, McGill University in Montreal, Columbia University in New York, and the University of California at Berkeley.
It was at the University of Iowa that Mukherjee received both an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. In...
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Bharati Mukherjee (MOO-kehr-jee) has become one of the literary voices whose skillful depictions of the non-European immigrant experience in the United States she credits with “subverting the very notion of what the American novel is and of what American culture is.” Born in Calcutta to an affluent Bengali family, Mukherjee’s life early assumed an international flavor as her father’s pharmaceutical career took the family to England and Switzerland. Fluent in English at an early age, Mukherjee entered an English-language convent school upon her return to Calcutta, which maintained the insularity from the city’s poverty that also characterized her prosperous home life. She received a B.A. in English from the University of Calcutta in 1959, and two years later she earned an M.A. in English and ancient Indian culture from the University of Baroda. Mukherjee’s experience in the United States began with a scholarship to the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she completed a master of fine arts and, in 1963, married the American writer Clark Blaise; the couple had two sons. Mukherjee’s subsequent teaching career took her to Canada in 1966; in 1969 she received a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. She has taught at McGill University; Skidmore College; Emory University; Queens College, New York; Montclair State College, New Jersey; University of California, Berkeley; and City University of New York.
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Mukherjee was born in 1940 into an elite caste level of Calcutta society. A Bengali Brahmin, Mukherjee grew up in a house cluttered with extended family, 40 or 45 people by her own count. In a 1993 interview with Runar Vignission in Journal of the South Pacific Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies, Mukherjee said she ‘‘had to drop inside books as a way of escaping crowds.’’
Mukherjee was educated as a proper Indian girl of a good family: she spoke Bengali her first three years, then entered English schools in Britain and Switzerland. Back in India, she attended the Loretto School run by Irish nuns, and subsequently universities in Calcutta and Baroda, where she earned a master's degree in English and Indian Culture. She immigrated to the United States in 1961 to attend, on scholarship, the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa. There, she earned her M.F.A. in fiction writing, and subsequently a Ph.D. in English and comparative literature. She also met and married writer Clark Blaise, thus avoiding a traditional Hindu marriage to an Indian nuclear physicist, arranged back home by her father. As of the year 2000, she has collaborated with her husband on three major writing projects.
Mukherjee's body of work, which includes three novels, two short story collections, and five works of varied nonfiction, returns to the theme of crossing cultural boundaries. Though Mukherjee has been a citizen of India,...
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Born in Calcutta, India, on July 27, 1940, Muhkerjee is the second of three daughters of a wealthy chemist and his wife. In 1947, the year that India gained its independence from England, the Mukherjees moved to London where Mukherjee's father took a researching job. The girls attended private schools in London and Switzerland. In 1951, the family returned to Calcutta, and the girls attended the Loretto school, an elite private Catholic school run by Irish nuns. Thus all of their schooling emphasized Western values and traditions at the expense of Indian culture.
Mukherjee studied at Indian universities, earning a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English and ancient Indian culture, before coming to the United States in 1962 on a scholarship to the prestigious creative writing program at the University of Iowa. There she earned her M.F.A. in 1963, and would later earn her Ph.D. She also met Canadian Clark Blaise at Iowa, and married him on their lunch hour in 1963.
In 1966, Mukherjee and Blaise moved to Canada where she taught at McGill University and wrote her first and second novels, The Tiger's Daughter (1972) and Wife (1975). A year spent in India with Blaise in 1973 resulted in their collaboration on the nonfictional Days and Nights in Calcutta (1977). Despite her success, Mukherjee was generally unhappy in Canada, where she felt that the official policy of multiculturalism failed to address, and even exacerbated, the...
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Biography (Short Stories for Students)
American novelist and short-story writer Bharati Mukherjee was born on July 27, 1940, in Calcutta, West Bengal, India, to wealthy parents, Sudhir Lal and Bina Mukherjee. Her father co-owned a pharmaceutical factory and later became director of research and development of a large chemical complex.
Even as a child, Mukherjee knew she was going to be a writer. She learned to read and write at the age of three, and she later reported that as a child, the fictional worlds she discovered in stories were more real to her than the world around her. She started her first novel when she was nine or ten, and at high school in Calcutta, she started writing short stories for school magazines.
Mukherjee received her bachelor of arts from the University of Calcutta in 1959, and a master of arts from the University of Baroda in 1961. Wanting to pursue a career as a writer and encouraged by her father to do so, Mukherjee then left India to attend the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa. She received a master of fine arts in 1963, and a Ph.D. in comparative literature, also from the University of Iowa, in 1970.
While studying at the Writers' Workshop, Mukherjee met the Canadian, Clark Blaise, who was also a student on the same program. The couple married in 1963, and from 1966 to 1980, they lived in...
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