Finalist, Lambda Literary Award
In the beginning, there is no he. There is no she.
Two cells make up one cell. This is the mathematics behind creation. One plus one makes one. Life begets life. We are the period to a sentence, the effect to a cause, always belonging to someone. We are never our own.
This is why we are so lonely.
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.
Vivek Shraya is a multimedia artist, working in the mediums of music, performance, literature, and film. His most recent film, What I LOVE about Being QUEER, has been expanded to include an online project and book with contributions from around the world. He is also author of God Loves Hair.
Multimedia artist Shraya's playful debut novel mixes the story of a young, gay Indian-Canadian man in Edmonton with Hindu mythology. As a boy, the nameless protagonist was teased by his classmates and was a social liability to his few male friends. The phrase "you're gay" is continuously hurled at him before he knows what it means when he trips, when he sings Vanessa Williams songs at a school assembly, or when he loses a race. He comes out after high school and finds that the gay community has a whole set of rules and norms to which he must conform, such as going to the Only Local Gay Bar, wearing tight T-shirts, and not talking about women. As foolish as he finds many of these things, he is grateful to have finally found a place where "it was possible to be liked," and he tries hard to fit in. So when he falls for an unnamed woman at work, his self-identity is thrown into confusion once again. The two fall in love quickly and deeply, and he sees her as the first person "he had ever liked outside of his needs." But the world still taunts him with "you're gay," and he must struggle to define himself both inside and outside his new relationship. This modern-day love story is interwoven with a retelling of the myths of the great goddess Pavarti; her husband, the god Shiva; and their son, the elephant god Ganesha. The Hindu gods, with their constantly shifting personas and manifestations, add a clever and thoughtful layer to the novel and highlight the intricacies and power of a love that eclipses gender, time, and conventions. Strikingly illustrated by Raymond Biesinger, this is a lyrical ode to love in all its many forms.