cover image Blue-Skinned Gods

Blue-Skinned Gods

SJ Sindu. Soho, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-1-64129-242-9

Sindu’s marvelous coming-of-age story (after Marriage of a Thousand Lies) features a young healer in Tamil Nadu, believed to be an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, who eventually breaks away from his domineering father. Kalki Sami has blue skin and black blood, and his father, Ayya, has built an ashram for the family to live in, where Kalki, on the eve of his 10th birthday, must undergo three tests, beginning with the performance of a miracle. After struggling to heal Roopa, a sick girl brought to the ashram, he doubts the prophecy about him. Kalki may be seen by strangers as a guru, but as a teen he is easily swayed by Ayya; his cousin, Lakshman, who is his best friend; and Roopa, whose condition eventually improves and with whom Kalki falls in love. After Lakshman leaves the ashram, Kalki travels to New York City as part of a “world healing tour” conceived by Ayya to promote Kalki, where the cousins unexpectedly reunite, and Kalki learns some news that breaks his life in two. Sindu juxtaposes the closed world of the ashram with Kalki’s vibrant experiences in New York, where he performs with Lakshman’s band, the Blue-Skinned Gods; eats meat; and “figures out who I was and who I was going to be.” The imagery is vivid—“my body a colony of ants puttering in all directions”—and the slow-burn narrative by the end becomes incandescent. Sindu’s stunning effort more than delivers on her initial promise. (Nov.)