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Through a queer lens

With a gay hero who discovers his sexuality through a maze of Penthouse, make-up and dolls, Rakesh Satyal explores the sensibilities of gays in his bittersweet debut novel Blue Boy.

books Updated: May 03, 2011 14:14 IST
Sonakshi Babbar

Blue Boy
Rakesh Satyal
Kensington Publishing Corporation
Rs 295
pp 276


With a gay hero who discovers his sexuality through a maze of Penthouse, make-up and dolls, Rakesh Satyal explores the sensibilities of gays in his bittersweet debut novel Blue Boy.

Kiran Sharma, a 12-year-old boy, realises that he is different from his peers — a gay Indian, he is a “minority among minorities”. Unable to fit into the ‘gang of bitches’ or the ‘hunks of junks’, he finds solace with Strawberry Shortcake, a glittery pink doll. Tormented by elementary school kids who are no less than a formidable Republic of Glevil (evil glee), Kiran dreams of making “the Indian and American worlds collide”.

Kiran tries to make sense of the world by believing he is the reincarnation of the blue-skinned Lord Krishna — a Casanova figure. Satyal manages to convince the reader that it is the only choice for an innocent child caught in the tug-of-war between being gay and ‘normal’.

Fed up with the taunts and ostracisation, Kiran realises that “being gay is a self-contained, alternate world” and he embraces this difference with an extraordinary hope. The innocent wisdom of Kiran shines forth, if one looks beyond the obvious references to jalebis, kismet and kajol.

The protagonist uses his wit to expose the clichéd and exotic representation of Indians by giving the Americans exactly what they want — a blue-skinned boy, resplendent in exotic peacock feathers and ghoongroo.

As a coming-of-age novel, Blue Boy is a good read for closet gays in a society still intolerant of homosexuals.