Today, on this blog, I have one of the most amazing writers who pen South-Asian representation in books: SJ Sindu, Tamil-American author of the famous Marriage of a Thousand Lies on the blog. I’m ecstatic to put some spotlight on this commendable award-winning fiction that depicts the complexity of race, sexuality, and nationality through a character-driven story. You should certainly pick up this highly acclaimed book if you haven’t yet and while you’re at it, check out these queer books recommended by SJ Sindu herself! Time to grow your TBR pile with the help of a great author.
Lucky and her husband, Krishna, are gay. They present an illusion of marital bliss to their conservative Sri Lankan–American families, while each dates on the side. It’s not ideal, but for Lucky, it seems to be working. She goes out dancing, she
drinks a bit, she makes ends meet by doing digital art on commission. But when Lucky’s grandmother has a nasty fall, Lucky returns to her childhood home and unexpectedly reconnects with her former best friend and first lover, Nisha, who is preparing for her own arranged wedding with a man she’s never met.
As the connection between the two women is rekindled, Lucky tries to save Nisha from entering a marriage based on a lie. But does Nisha really want to be saved? And after a decade’s worth of lying, can Lucky break free of her own circumstances and build a new life? Is she willing to walk away from all that she values about her parents and community to live in a new truth? As Lucky—an outsider no matter what choices she makes—is pushed to the breaking point, Marriage of a Thousand Lies offers a vivid exploration of a life lived at a complex intersection of race, sexuality, and nationality. The result is a profoundly American debut novel shot through with humor and loss, a story of love, family, and the truths that define us all.
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Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker
If you know nothing about queer history or theory, or even if you know quite a lot, this book is a wonderful way to get into this reading list. Complex and nuanced queer concepts and history are represented in graphic form. I use this to introduce queer theory to undergraduates, and no matter who you are, you can learn something from this book.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
This is one of my absolute favorite books of all time. A graphic memoir of a lesbian growing up in a family that runs a funeral home, Fun Home is about the author’s grappling with the death of her closeted father. The innovating narrative structure and the way queer history is woven into the book make this a standout.
The Gilda Stories by Jewelle L. Gomez
Three words: black bisexual vampires. If you’re into speculative, historical, or queer fiction, you might love this historical queer novel that reinvents the vampire myth. As readers we get to follow the life of the central character as history moves around her.
How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones
The story of a gay black boy growing up in the American South, this memoir is both powerful and heartbreaking. Jones explores coming out, coming of age, sexuality, mother-son relationships, religion, and identity.
Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai
Set in Sri Lanka before its decades-long civil war, this novel-in-stories follows a gay boy growing up on the island and struggling with his gender and his sexuality. As Arjie plays as a child, falls in love, experiments, and hides his true self from his family, we see both a universal and very specific coming of age novel grounded in the lived queer experience of many South Asians.
SJ Sindu is a Tamil-American author and educator. Sindu’s first novel, Marriage of a Thousand Lies, won the Publishing Triangle Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction and the Golden Crown Literary Society Award for Debut Fiction, was selected by the American Library Association as a Stonewall Honor Book, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and the VCU First Novelist Award. Her second novel, Blue-Skinned Gods, is forthcoming in 2021 from Soho Press. Sindu is also the author of the hybrid fiction and nonfiction chapbook, I Once Met You But You Were Dead, which won the Split Lip Press Turnbuckle Chapbook Contest. An Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, Sindu holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a PhD in Creative Writing from Florida State University. She lives in Canada with her partner, the poet Geoff Bouvier.
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