By Julie Bolcer
Originally published on Advocate.com October 06 2010 1:20 PM ET
Beginning at midnight PST Wednesday and lasting throughout the day, novelist Rakesh Satyal is offering his award-winning debut, Blue Boy, as a free Amazon Kindle download to help readers cope with the devastating series of recent LGBT teen suicides.
Blue Boy, published in 2009 by Kensington Books, won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Debut Fiction this year. The novel tells the story of Kiran Sharma, a 12-year-old boy growing up in a traditional Indian household in Cincinnati in the early 1990s. Kiran, an only child who is gay, struggles with bullying and his family’s conservative pressures, but perseveres because of his indomitable spirit and confidence in his unique creativity, imagination, and artistic sense.
“I really wanted to kind of put together this untold story, a gay Indian-American boy, but at the same time I wanted it to be universal in its pains,” said Satyal, who reported a positive response on Amazon as of late Wednesday morning. “I think we’ve seen especially recently this sense that kids can feel isolated when they’re different in any way is one of the most persistent things about being a kid. The idea was to tell a particular story but make it universal and show, ‘Here is a resilience in kids that gives them a way of dealing with the harder things in life much more effectively in some cases than adults.’”
Satyal, a 30-year-old New York City resident, said the novel is based only partially on his life growing up in Cincinnati, where unlike Kiran, he was not an only child, and his parents held more progressive views than many Indian immigrant families. An appreciation for the uniqueness of each person’s journey, in fact, permeates the novel and underlines an important lesson for Satyal about the recent gay teen suicides.
“The sadness of it and the devastation of it is new and fresh every single time,” he said. “I think the danger in this is putting people in the collective, as seeing them all as a string of something, as opposed to each person being a shining, unique individual.”