From the award-winning author of Marriage of a Thousand Lies comes a brilliantly written, globe-spanning novel about identity, faith, family, and sexuality.
In Tamil Nadu, India, a boy is born with blue skin. His father sets up an ashram, and the family makes a living off of the pilgrims who seek the child’s blessings and miracles, believing young Kalki to be the tenth human incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. In Kalki’s tenth year, he is confronted with three trials that will test his power and prove his divine status and, his father tells him, spread his fame worldwide. While he seems to pass them, Kalki begins to question his divinity.
Over the next decade, his family unravels, and every relationship he relied on—father, mother, aunt, uncle, cousin—starts falling apart. Traveling from India to the underground rock scene of New York City, Blue-Skinned Gods explores ethnic, gender, and sexual identities, and spans continents and faiths, in an expansive and heartfelt look at the need for belief in our globally interconnected world.
About the Author
SJ Sindu is the author of the novel Marriage of a Thousand Lies, which won the Publishing Triangle Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, and was an ALA Stonewall Honor Book; as well as the hybrid fiction and nonfiction chapbook I Once Met You But You Were Dead. She holds an MA in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a PhD in English and Creative Writing from Florida State University. Sindu teaches at the University of Toronto Scarborough.
An ABA Indie Next Pick for November 2021 Praise for Blue-Skinned Gods
“SJ Sindu has written another brilliant novel in Blue-Skinned Gods. This time, she tells the story of a boy with blue skin who is trying to be the god everyone tells him he is . . . Here is a novel about the bonds between brothers, a deceptive tyrant and son, a mother who doesn’t know how to save herself or her child, a boy and how he yearns for his young loves, and so much more. The richness of this story will take hold of you and never let go.” —Roxane Gay
“Sj Sindu has given us a true gift in Kalki Sami and his journey. A coming-of-age story wielding philosophical, historical, and emotional moments full of passion, vividly described, Blue-Skinned Gods is one of the most original and beautiful novels I’ve read in a long time.” —Brandon Hobson, author of Where the Dead Sit Talking and The Removed
“Blue-Skinned Gods is a marvel of a novel. S.J. Sindu has created a cast of characters so compelling it was difficult to set the book down. I was enraptured by the careful twining of these lives: a manipulative father, a mother who loves her son to the point of agony, the joy and despair of tender first love, the pressure of knowing your destiny and the devastation of losing everything at once. It is a true joy to encounter a book so beautifully written. The prose is lush and stunning, the narrative wildly gripping. Sindu is a phenomenal writer and Blue-Skinned Gods is a treasure.” —Kristen Arnett, New York Times bestselling author of Mostly Dead Things
“This marvelous novel offers up the most extraordinary circumstance in which to live a life. It delivers everything I didn’t know I desperately wanted: snake bites, ink baths, god-energy, gurus, post-punk music, viral videos, redemption, and an unforgettable character asking all the big questions. What am I and what am I capable of? In the asking comes revelations on the nature of love, power in friendship, weight of dogma, and the visceral seeping together of diverse cultures. These pages left me with the best case of culture shock, and in awe over Sindu’s storytelling talent.” —Devin Murphy, national bestselling author of The Boat Runner and Tiny Americans
“Blue-Skinned Gods is a memorable and vivid coming-of-age story that feels timely in its pursuit of exploring the meaning of truth and how we know what to believe about ourselves and others. Kalki’s journey from an isolated ashram in India to the kaleidoscope of New York City's clubs and streets is captivating. This is a wonderful book about family, friendship, and miracles.” —Elise Hooper, author of Fast Girls, Learning to See, and The Other Alcott
“With Blue-Skinned Gods, SJ Sindu has written an epic in every sense of the word: the amazing life and times of Kalki Sami, the boy born with blue skin and the power to heal, reads like an instant classic. Sindu has proven herself, yet again, to be a master storyteller—Blue-Skinned Gods is thrilling, remarkable, and totally irresistible. You won’t be able to put it down.” —Nick White, author of How to Survive a Summer and Sweet & Low
“Blue-Skinned Gods is a gorgeously atmospheric journey of faith and doubt—and ultimately, of finding one's sense of self after a lifetime of performing for others. With exquisite prose, SJ Sindu, one of our finest storytellers, explores the entanglements of Eastern spirituality and globalism, family and trauma, gender and sexuality, in a compulsively readable and emotionally charged tale.” —Patrick Cottrell, Whiting Award winner and author of Sorry to Disrupt the Peace
“Blue-Skinned Gods is beautifully rendered, a profound story about faith - in others, and in oneself - and manipulation. Here, a boy may or may not be the reincarnation of a God, and his quest to understand himself, and his responsibility to those around him, is utterly compelling. It is a story about miracles, both of the world we inhabit and the ordinary, flawed, spectacular people we inhabit it with, as we find that the greatest miracles might come from the friendships that help us become who we really are.” —Tessa Fontaine, author of The Electric Woman
“An explosive, provoking examination of what we are forced to or choose to believe to be true.” —Booklist
“Sindu’s marvelous coming-of-age story features a young healer in Tamil Nadu, believed to be an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu . . . The imagery is vivid and the slow-burn narrative by the end becomes incandescent. Sindu’s stunning effort more than delivers on her initial promise.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Sindu’s excavations of Kalki’s internal struggles are detailed, nuanced, and rich . . . Remarkably moving in its explorations of faith, doubt, and what it might mean to be a charlatan.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A thoughtful exploration of contemporary religion and the relations between modern culture and tradition.” —Foreword Reviews
Praise for Marriage of a Thousand Lies
“A gorgeous, heartbreaking novel . . . An incredibly compelling tale.” —New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay
“A remarkable novel rich with interlocking issues both timeless and timely. SJ Sindu’s debut is more than impressive; it’s important.” —Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
“I love Lucky, the unforgettable narrator of Marriage of a Thousand Lies . . . I’m especially captivated by the novel’s honesty and tenderness—. . . SJ Sindu is an intuitive writer with great insights into the complications of love and friendship.” —Timothy Schaffert, author of The Swan Gondola
“SJ Sindu has written an important novel about Sri Lankan immigrant culture. Here, the intersections of migration, sexuality and culture are explored in loving and heartbreaking detail. A book that reveals the secrets of a community caught between East and West.” —Nayomi Munaweera, author of Island of a Thousand Mirrors
“Entertaining.” —The Toronto Star
“Enthralling . . . Sindu is a skilled writer, and this is a remarkable first novel.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
“Sindu’s heart-wrenching debut novel . . . incorporates love, loss, family, rebirth and growth to tell a captivating story you won’t be able to put down.” —Ms. Magazine