The Sea Elephants
by Shastri Akella
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Pub Date 11 Jul 2023 | Archive Date 18 Sep 2023
For fans of Shuggie Bain and A Burning, a queer coming-of-age novel set in 1990s India, about a young man who joins a traveling street theater troupe, seeking to outrun the dark secrets of his past
"An exquisite novel destined to be a classic.” ―Eric Nguyen, author of Things We Lost to the Water
Shagun knows he will never be the kind of son his father demands. After the sudden deaths of his beloved twin sisters, Shagun flees his own guilt, his mother’s grief, and his father’s violent disapproval by enrolling at an all-boys boarding school. But he doesn’t find true belonging until he encounters a traveling theater troupe performing the Hindu myths of his childhood.
Welcomed by the other storytellers, Shagun thrives, easily embodying mortals and gods, men and women, and living on the road, where his father can’t catch him. When Shagun meets Marc, a charming photographer, he seems to have found the love he always longed for, too. But not even Marc can save him from his lingering shame, nor his father’s ever-present threat to send him to a conversion center. As Shagun’s past begins to engulf him once again, he must decide if he is strong enough to face what he fears most, and to boldly claim his own happiness.
Utterly immersive and spellbinding, The Sea Elephants is both dark and beautiful, harrowing and triumphant. An ode to the redemptive joys of art, Shastri Akella’s debut novel is a celebration of hard-won love—of others and for ourselves.