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Book Reviews She of the Mountains: Vivek Shraya’s latest novel intertwines two seemingly unrelated stories

Title
She of the Mountains
Author
Vivek Shraya
Genre
Fiction
Publisher
Arsenal
Pages
173
Price
$18.95

Vivek Shraya's latest novel intertwines two seemingly unrelated stories: the first follows the Hindu deity family of Parvati, Shiva, and Ganesh from Ganesh's creation through his early years; the second, set roughly in the present day, is about a Hindu boy growing up in Edmonton, later moving to Toronto, who identifies as gay only to soon find that word far too constricting. While the young protagonist does fantasize about the bodies of other men, after high school he quickly falls for a woman. What emerges is a queer love story addressing the issue of bisexual erasure ("You're gay" insist gay and straight people alike). Accompanied by Raymond Biesinger's two-colour illustrations, the two stories share the theme of embodiment: the portly, elephant-headed Ganesh and our brown-skinned, sometimes body-dysmorphic protagonist both struggle to be at home in their own skin. So it's a self-love story as well.

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