"A touching poetic exploration of budding sexuality, the mysticism of religion, and family dynamics. Shraya's text and Neufeld's illustrations capture the confusion, innocence, and de3lusions of adolescence bang on." -Brian Francis, author of Fruit
I am often mistaken for a girl. Not just because I like to wear dresses or makeup. I don't mind. My parents are from India and here is not quite home. School isn't always safe and neither is my body. But I feel safe in my love for God. And God loves hair.
First published to acclaim in 2011, Vivek Shraya's first book, now published by Arsenal Pulp Press for the first time, is a collection of twenty-one short stories following a tender, intellectual, and curious child of Indian origin as he navigates the complex realms of sexuality, gender, racial politics, religion, and belonging. Told with the poignant insight and honesty that only the voice of a young mind can convey, God Loves Hair is a moving and ultimately joyous portrait of youth that celebrates diversity in all shapes, sizes, and colors. A Lambda Literary Award finalist in the category of children's books. The stories are accompanied by the award-winning full-color illustrations of Juliana Neufeld.
Vivek Shraya is a multimedia artist, working in the mediums of music, performance, literature, and film. He is also author of She of the Mountains.
Hinduism and its institutions can heap shame on gay adolescents just as effectively as the Judeo-Christian world, Shraya's collection of short stories shows. Originally self-published in 2011, this terse, honest account of growing up gay in an East Indian family living in Canada explores layers of identity immigrant, male, cultural consumer, sexual being. "Maybe you should dress me up in a sari and see what I would look like as a girl," his young narrator tells his Indian aunts coyly, reveling in the jewelry and makeup that go with his costume. Later, in his teens, the boy tries to manage amorphous and confusing desires by dedicating his life to God at a religious summer school. An older adherent follows him back to his room: "Just sit next to me for a second." Caution and excuses are no help: "He grabs my face with his hands and slams his chapped lips against mine." Shraya's stripped-down prose has documentary force, and Neufeld's illustrations, with their intersecting planes of translucent color and their linoleum block-style images, add humor and bite. It's an important addition to the library of coming-out literature. Ages 12 up.