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She of the Mountains

She of the Mountains

By Vivek Shraya
Illustrated by Raymond Biesinger
Categories: LGBTQ+, Gay Literature, Fiction, BIPOC, Asian Literature
Paperback : 9781551525600, 152 pages, 2014


A "Globe 100" Best Book of the Year (The Globe and Mail)

Lambda Literary Award finalist

In the beginning, there is no he. There is no she.

Two cells make up one cell. This is the mathematics behind creation. One plus one makes one. Life begets life. We are the period to a sentence, the effect to a cause, always belonging to someone. We are never our own.

This is why we are so lonely.

She of the Mountains is a beautifully rendered illustrated novel by Vivek Shraya, the author of the Lambda Literary Award finalist God Loves Hair. Shraya weaves a passionate, contemporary love story between a man and his body, with a re-imagining of Hindu mythology. Both narratives explore the complexities of embodiment and the damaging effects that policing gender and sexuality can have on the human heart.

The illustrations are by Raymond Biesinger, whose work has appeared in such publications as The New Yorker and the New York Times.


  • Short-listed, Lambda Literary Award 2015


The Hindu gods, with their constantly shifting personas and manifestations, add a clever and thoughtful layer to the novel and highlight the intricacies and power of a love that eclipses gender, time, and conventions. Strikingly illustrated by Raymond Biesinger, this is a lyrical ode to love in all its many forms. -Publishers Weekly

- Publishers Weekly

She of the Mountains quashes the predominantly white, cisgender and heterosexual perspective of live, and instead tells a raw and honest intersectional story much needed in an oft two-dimensional world of Canadian literature. -This Magazine

- This Magazine

A cathartic tale simply told. -The Globe and Mail ("The Globe 100 of 2014")

- The Globe and Mail

Vivek Shraya's intimate novel She of the Mountains weaves together a contemporary love story with Hindu mythology, incorporating strikingly bold illustrations from Raymond Biesinger. This is a book for readers who want to be taken on an artistic ride. -The Advocate

- The Advocate

Given the intersection of Vivek Shraya's writing and his music up till now, it should come as no surprise that his newest book is an equally compelling fusion of stories, voices, and textures. She of the Mountains is a touching and transporting prose-poem that has a music all its own. -Rakesh Satyal, author of Blue Boy

- Rakesh Satyal

She Of The Mountains is part poetry, part novel, part short vignette -- all beautiful. -NOW Magazine


Shraya's talent as a writer shines through in his use of descriptive imagery. His paragraphs are beautifully written, each like a standalone story. Like many epic stories from Hindu mythology, She of the Mountains is a timeless love story about two people drawn together by something larger than themselves, yet kept apart by each other. -Plenitude

- Plenitude

She of the Mountains is a treatise to epic love. Shraya's prose is deft and lyrical, and shape-shifts like his characters' bodies and desires - both otherworldly and human. This is a book that is full of heart, and mine sank and lifted with each turn of the page. -Farzana Doctor, author of Six Metres of Pavement and Stealing Nasreen

- Farzana Doctor

She of the Mountains weaves together a young man's journey with Hindu mythology, creating a sophisticated and whimsical tale -- a poignant capturing of the search for wholeness, whether on a human or superhuman level. -Shyam Selvadurai, author of The Hungry Ghosts

- Shyam Selvadurai

An intoxicating story that thrums and aches with teenage energy. -Edmonton Journal ("Top 5 Books of 2014")

- Edmonton Journal

Accompanied by riveting illustrations by Raymond Biesinger, Shraya's prose is succinct and poignant. -Canadian Literature

- Canadian Literature

Vivek Shraya's slim and eminently readable novel She of the Mountains has the distinct air of a roman a clef. -Los Angeles Review of Books

- Los Angeles Review of Books

Vivek's latest - and most beautiful - work is a truly remarkable, mesmerizing journey. I feel like I've uncovered a whole other side to him. One of the brightest new writing talents to come out of Canada.
-Tegan Quin, of Tegan and Sara

- Tegan Quin

Everyone should read this book . .. It is too much to ask a novel to fix the world, but She of the Mountains has the potential to bring more understanding and compassion to some communities that desperately need it. -Alberta Views

- Alberta Views

Vivek Shraya seamlessly blends a lyrical interpretation of Hindu mythology with a contemporary coming-of-age tale . .. Studded with abstract illustrations by Raymond Biesinger, Shraya's book is accessible, yet complex. There is the sense that what he achieves with She of the Mountains is so new, we don't have the proper language to articulate its success. The ultimate hope is that this work will pave the way for more of its ilk, and provide this country and culture with a robust look at identity and its inherent fluidity. -Quill and Quire (STARRED REVIEW)

- Quill and Quire

She of the Mountains is a wonderfully textured book that knows better than to offer hasty answers about identity - rather Shraya draws us into a series of highly poetic and hyper-intimate scenes that allows us to feel and explore for ourselves.
-Amber Dawn, author of Sub Rosa and How Poetry Saved My Life

- Amber Dawn

She of the Mountains is a forthright, honest, damned sexy book written, gleefully and counter-intuitively, in a lyrical, epic, transcendent style. It is not your typical debut novel, but rather one ripped apart at the spine and then reconfigured via alchemy, Tantric mysticism, the open verse of social media, and pure, raw talent. Sensual, smart (and smart-assed), She of the Mountains is the beginning of something big, bold, and - hold your purse! - glamorous. -R. M. Vaughan, author of Compared To Hitler

- R.M. Vaughan