God Loves Hair by Vivek Shraya
About: Vivek Shraya’s first book is a collection of twenty-one short stories following a tender, intellectual, and curious child as he navigates the complex realms of sexuality, gender, racial politics, religion, and belonging. God Loves Hair is a moving and ultimately joyous portrait of youth that celebrates diversity in all shapes, sizes, and colors. (SPL website.)
Stephanie says: This tiny collection is less “short stories” and more like miniature vignettes in the mind of a child aging into a teen. As a whole collection, it reads as though the author is writing scenes or tableaus that he later realized were critical in developing his singular personhood.
In the beginning, we are told of how the narrator’s mom barters with her Hindu God begging that if he gives her two boys, she will promise to give them their first haircut in the Temple of the Seven Hills in Tirupathi, India. In the Hindu religion it is custom to cut off your hair because it “pleases God because it means you have chosen Him over your appearance.” This negotiation is the seminal moment in our narrator’s journey as he seeks an understanding of himself as a gay, Canadian-Indian Hindu. The rawness with which Shraya writes about his awkwardness in this coming-of-age collection is painfully familiar to anyone who has experienced reality as a teen.