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She of the Mountains by Vivek Shraya
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She of the Mountains (2014)

by Vivek Shraya

Other authors: Raymond Biesinger (Illustrator)

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Vivek Shraya's novel of a struggle toward self-acceptance as a queer Canadian-Indian man is lyrical and light, poetry as prose, and tangibly deeply rooted in Hinduism. The modern story -- in the third person limited perspective of an unnamed man -- launches from and repeatedly incorporates retellings of well-known Hindu tales, primarily those of the mother goddess Parvati and her elephant-headed son Ganesha. Gorgeous monochrome images adorn the novel. This is a short book that benefits from analysis and discussion, and I'd highly recommend it.

I didn't find the two storylines -- one ancient myth, one modern story -- explicitly linked or parallel to each other initially, though like poetry, their connections became more tightly linked as I reread. My initial sense was that these stories were linked just to ensure the audience with a wee bit of Hindu background for the tale to come. It's the Hindu aspect that speaks most to me in this story, and even I, minimally educated in Hinduism, found it sprouting in many directions (which I'm confining to comments on my personal book listing).

There is a ton to chew on here, and discussions make it even more appreciable. It's a lovely book. If you're lucky enough to see it, you should pick it up and take a look. ( )
  pammab | Nov 29, 2017 |
Essentially a story of becoming safe and comfortable in your own skin, Shraya disarmingly interweaves snippets of the Hindu story of Shiva, Parvati, and Ganesha with that of a young Indian-Canadian man just finding his way emotionally, sexually, and socially into adulthood. Although long "categorized" by those around him as gay, much of the book recounts an engulfing relationship with a woman, which shows in a direct and startling way just how detrimental narrow labels are. Getting grief from gay and straight friends alike for not hewing closely to one "side"—and here Shraya handles the story beautifully—he just keeps moving forward, somehow permitting the course dictated by his spirit to lead him. The intertwined Hindu myth narrative illuminates this quest subtly as well as deeply. ( )
1 vote Boito_2 | Dec 17, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vivek Shrayaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Biesinger, RaymondIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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She of the Mountains is a beautifully rendered illustrated novel by Vivek Shraya, the author of the Lambda Literary Award finalist God Loves Hair. Shraya weaves a passionate, contemporary love story between a man and his body, with a re-imagining of Hindu mythology. Both narratives explore the complexities of embodiment and the damaging effects that policing gender and sexuality can have on the human heart. Illustrations are by Raymond Biesinger, whose work has appeared in such publications as The New Yorker and the New York Times.… (more)

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