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Author, professor Bharati Mukherjee dies at 76

Bharati MukherjeeIndian-American author and professor Bharati Mukherjee died on Jan. 28 at age 76. The cause of death was from complications associated with a heart condition.

Born in 1940 in Calcutta, Mukherjee moved to the U.S. in 1961. She met her husband, Canadian-American author Clark Blaise, the following year at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and in 1966, the couple moved to Montreal, where Mukherjee taught English literature at McGill University. Her well-received debut novel, The Tiger’s Daughter, was followed by seven additional novels, four story collections, and four works of non-fiction, including two co-written with Blaise: a memoir, Days and Nights in Calcutta, in 1977, and The Sorrow and the Terror: The Haunting Legacy of the Air India Tragedy, published in 1987. Mukherjee was the recipient of a 1988 National Book Critics Circle Award for her story collection, The Middleman and Other Stories. Her obituary in The New York Times observes that throughout Mukherjee’s writing career, “the restless, hopeful surge of immigration, and the mutability of cultures, gripped her imagination.”

After a brief, unhappy time living in Toronto – Mukherjee documented the racism she experienced in the city in an eye-opening personal essay, “An Invisible Woman,” for Saturday Night magazine – the couple moved in 1980 to California, where she later took a teaching position at the University of California–Berkeley. Her last novel, Miss New India, was published in 2011, the same year as Blaise’s linked story collection, The Meagre Tarmac (Biblioasis).