Book Tour: Blue-Skinned Gods by SJ Sindu

Book cover for Blue-Skinned Gods by SJ Sindu. Blue cover with gold illustrations around the border and a god's head at the top.

Title: Blue-Skinned Gods
Author: SJ Sindu
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Soho Press | Legend Press
Publication date: November 2, 2021
Format / source: eBook / ARC from publisher
Soho Press
Content warnings: death, physical and emotional abuse, suicide, terminal illness, alcohol abuse, sexual content
Rating: ★★★★☆

I’m so excited to be joining Legend Press for a book tour of this new book! I was immediately interested after reading the blurb and it was such a fascinating read, I was completely sucked in. You can follow along with the tour by checking the schedule as other bloggers share their thoughts!

And this beautiful book cover was designed by Rose Cooper! One of the most stunning covers I’ve seen this year, for sure. Now on to the review!

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.

The blurb gives just enough away to draw people in but I stopped reading at a young boy is raised as a god and thought ‘I’m in’. So truly, this book doesn’t need much context before immersing yourself in it.

This was very, very good and I loved how the story just so slightly shifted and revealed where we were headed as we got further in. Even the subtle aspects of the book, like what each section title ultimately represents, are so important to the story and our ultimate understanding of it and I loved these little nods that we discover throughout! So many of my thoughts are related to the latter half of the book so I’ll refrain from sharing too much to avoid spoilers but if anyone’s read it and wants to chat, let me know!

I was definitely not prepared for the twist, though of course we have hints of ‘what the heck is going on’, but the power of this writing comes not only from the author’s surprise in this twist but the implications of what these new discoveries will mean for Kalki’s sense of the world. Ultimately the book moves from a curious and fantastical story of a child god, to exploring more worldly concepts with Kalki as our eyes and ears.

The book is told almost primarily chronologically but there are a few moments within chapters where we’re suddenly in the present day with Kalki as he reflects back on his story. While I do like having this additional context of his current knowledge and hints of where he ends up, the present day moments were so infrequently mixed in, and usually within a flashback chapter, that it felt an odd change of the flow of the story.

The ending is where I have more issues, which of course I’ll keep vague to avoid spoilers. I was prepared to leave the book with many unanswered questions, which felt very realistic in how people’s lives progress, but the ending then hints that there are even more hideous secrets being kept. Except that after all these hints, we just get more of the same so the scene felt rather pointless, and then the book ended very abruptly.

This is still a book I’ll be thinking about long after I’ve put it down but I wish it could’ve embraced being open-ended more. I also really appreciated that the author ends with a land acknowledgment and includes many recommendations on Indigenous authors to check out.

Photo of a Tamil-American person with shoulder-length curly hair. She's looking at the camera and wears a large beaded necklack and a burgundy long-sleeve blouse.

About the Author: SJ Sindu was born in Sri Lanka and raised in Massachusetts. Sindu is the author of the novel Marriage of a Thousand Lies, which was selected by the American Library Association as a Stonewall Honor Book, as well as nonfiction I Once Met You But You Were Dead, which won the Split Lip Press Turnbuckle Chapbook Contest. A 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow, Sindu holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Florida State University, and currently teaches at Ringling College of Art & Design. She lives in Canada with her partner, the poet Geoff Bouvier.

Author links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Have you read any books about gods?

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Cover image and author bio provided by publisher, blurb from Goodreads.

4 thoughts on “Book Tour: Blue-Skinned Gods by SJ Sindu

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