This July, AAWW and Books Are Magic come together to celebrate THE SEA ELEPHANTS, a queer coming-of-age novel set in 1990s India, about a young man who flees his father’s threats to send him to a conversion center by joining a street theater troupe.
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.
Shastri Akella holds an MFA in creative writing and a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His writing has appeared in Guernica, The Master’s Review, Electric Literature, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rumpus, PANK, The Common, and World Literature Review, among others. The Sea Elephants is his debut.
Rakesh Satyal is an Executive Editor at HarperVia/HarperCollins and the author of the novels Blue Boy and No One Can Pronounce My Name.
- All attendees are strongly encouraged to wear a face mask at all times.
- Tickets are limited to restrict capacity at our store, and each ticket will include either a copy of the featured book or a $10 Books Are Magic gift card.
- Additional copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event.
- A signing will follow the talk.
- Home address is collected for contact tracing purposes; it will not be used otherwise.
- The event will also be live streamed for free here: https://youtube.com/live/ya8W8d9Uo5A
- As a reminder: If you are not feeling well, please do not come to the event, even if you have a ticket; email us and we’ll work it out.
If you have any questions regarding these guidelines or to request accessibility accommodations, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.