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8 June 2010, 12:00 pm 2 Comments

Co będzie Twoją przygodą?: Book Review: God Loves Hair by Vivek Shraya

This post was submitted by Jude

Vivek Shraya dedicates his new book, God Loves Hair, to “the boy that was almost lost.” What follows is a coming-of-age story that is as touching as it is succinct, and will certainly echo the childhood realities of so many from our generation and community. After all, today’s electro-indie musicians, editorial assistants, gallery interns, graphic designers and blogging book critics were all—at one time or another—spit on in the hallway, called a faggot in front of their teachers and getting changed in the corner of the locker room before gym class.

When I think of the city of Toronto, where Shraya’s story takes place, it’s difficult for me to not think of the TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation. I imagine an ethnically diverse group of young people dealing with the universal prangs of adolescence, getting frozen yogurt together and telling each other they are “soory.” While Shraya’s story does take place in Toronto, and could easily be written into a storyline on that particular show, it’s his faith and heritage in the driver’s seat, steering itself on common ground for those who have never been to Toronto and certainly never spent an entire spring break watching Degrassi box sets with his little sister.

Many South Asian kids will probably identify with his vignettes, his struggle to maneuver in his parents’ world, and the world of Hinduism—one particularly poignant scene has young Vivek drawing on his hands and arms with blue ink, so as to make himself the color of Lord Shiva. “Maybe it’s the blue that keeps You cool. If only I were blue,” he writes. What keeps Shraya cool, at least during the telling of his collected stories, is his deadpan delivery. He makes no exaggerated leap to get a laugh, and any sign of self-pity is nonexistent throughout. He’s simply telling his own story, which in its essence is the story of my first boyfriend (raised Muslim) and the story of me (raised Catholic).

With delightful illustrations by Juliana Neufeld, God Loves Hair is the kind of book I wish there were more of. Growing up queer has given so many of us an abundance of stories to tell—painful, funny stories on feeling like lost little boys and girls that are eventually, hopefully found.

To see if Vivek Shraya will be giving a reading in your area, or to get a copy of the book, visit:

godloveshair.com

vivekshraya.com


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2 Comments »

  • David R. said:

    The book takes place in Edmonton, where Shraya grew up.

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