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Your Favorite Book: Exit West with SJ Sindu

Your Favorite Book: Exit West with SJ Sindu

Welcome to another installment of a collaboration between the Chicago Review of Books and the Your Favorite Book podcast. Malavika Praseed, frequent CHIRB contributor and podcast host, seeks to talk to readers and writers about the books that light a fire inside them. What’s your favorite book and why?

This week’s guest is SJ Sindu, whose second novel Blue Skinned Gods takes on religion and identity in a bold new way. The novel follows Kalki, raised as the tenth avatar of Vishnu due to his blue skin, and explores coming to terms with trauma and self-concept as he grows into adulthood. We travel from an ashram in Tamil Nadu to the rock scene of New York City and observe with bated breath as Kalki comes to terms with his fraught familial relationships and the conflict of his divinity. Sindu’s work is accessible to a broad audience yet specific in its references to Hindu mythology and beliefs, and the result is a satisfying, page-turning read.

Sindu cites Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West as an all-time favorite book. This novel excels from a prose level, with its hallmark winding sentences and many commas. But beyond pure sentence structure, the novel is a detailed and tender character study, depicting the ebbs and flows in the relationship of its central characters. The magical realism elements of transformative doors adds not whimsy, but a dreamlike quality that only highlights the realities of immigration and finding home away from home.

Sindu also shares their thoughts on everything from bespoke gift wrapping to the purpose of chapbooks, and so much more. And of course, the episode is spoiler free!

See Also

Short Story Book Club: Inventory by Carmen Maria Machado (with Rena Patel) Your Favorite Book

We're at the end of another month, and we're bringing back a familiar voice for this one. Rena Patel was on the show over a year ago to talk about JULIET by Anne Fortier, but now we're taking on something far darker and foreboding, the short story "Inventory" by Carmen Maria Machado, part of her renowned collection HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES. This story is wild, y'all. Beautifully crafted, deeply unsettling, and somehow written before COVID. Yeah. We also chat about the differences between playwriting and prose writing, and there are some spoilers for the movie DON'T LOOK UP. Consider yourself warned. There are spoilers for this one! Read the short story here: Follow the podcast on instagram and twitter: @yfbpodcast
  1. Short Story Book Club: Inventory by Carmen Maria Machado (with Rena Patel)
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  4. Short Story Book Club: The Worst Friend Date I Ever Had by Samantha Irby (with Jasmine Vyas)
  5. Gregor the Overlander with Vaishnavi Patel (Author of Kaikeyi)

Listen to this episode of Your Favorite Book at the link above and stay tuned for more episodes with other writers in the weeks to come. If you enjoy this episode, check out other episodes of Your Favorite Book on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or other major podcast platforms.

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