Growing up gay was never an easy task for me. Society fills our heads with preconceived notions of who we should be, who we should love and how we should live our lives. To this day, I still struggle for validation of my actions and choices, often finding myself bound by the chains to conform and the need to please those around me. Reading Vivek Shraya’s first novel, She of the Mountains has opened up a world of self exploration, changing how I view love and pain and ultimately how I view myself and the world around me. It was personal and transformative.
Vivek Shraya puts into words, many unspoken feelings and emotions I have found myself carrying over the years. I constantly had moments of familiarity, while reading the novel, despite the differences in narrative to my own. Vivek brilliantly constructs and breaks down his characters in such an intimate and quirky way, dropping any preconceived notions, bringing honesty and realism to his work. His protagonists are genuine in their triumphs and struggles, in their love, confusion and pain, that you feel like you actually know them, or perhaps are them.
She of the Mountains is a novel that crafts and weaves together two narratives, a re-imagined Hindu mythology and a contemporary love story. In both streams, Vivek breaks down what it means to love and to be loved, despite one’s environment or predisposition. He ultimately takes us, and me personally, on a journey of discovery, identity and self awareness.
Vivek Shraya is a multidisciplinary artist; a writer, musician, performer and film-maker. Originally from Edmonton, he now calls Toronto home.
I had the pleasure of shooting Vivek for this blog post and attending his book launch in Toronto, at the historic Gladstone Hotel. The pure talent that exudes from Vivek Shraya is simply amazing. He is a smart, calculated, humorous, giving and genuinely humble artist. During his book launch alone, he read, performed, sang, and was charismatic and witty during his interview, a true jack of all trades.
During our time together, we talked about his music, his religion background, being queer and his role models growing up. But the more I dig into his body of work, I quickly realized that the person he is and the values he holds are all reflected and recreated in the various and varied projects he has completed over the years. So instead of boring you with details, I urge you to journey over to his website and discover the man and the artist that is Vivek Shraya.
Vivek Shraya will being touring across Canada and the US over the next 3 months, so find out when he is in your city and go see him.