Facing Our Pasts and Ourselves

SJ Sindu was born in Sri Lanka and raised in Massachusetts, much like the narrator of her debut novel Marriage of a Thousand Lies. The book’s relase comes on the heels of her success at the 2016 Turnbuckle Chapbook Contest—where her hybrid fiction-nonfiction chapbook I Once Met You But You Were Dead won first place.

Sindu’s debut novel follows Lucky, the narrator, as she wrestles with her two identities—being a lesbian woman and Sri Lankan daughter. The heart-wrenching tale incorporates love, loss, family, rebirth and growth to tell a captivating story you won’t be able to put down.

The novel opens with Lucky and her husband, Krishna, attending gay night at a local bar. Sindu’s vivid imagery transports the reader: the pounding music, bodies on strange bodies, sweat and beer mix into an intoxicating cocktail of self-doubt and sexual freedom. Krishna (or Kris, as Lucky calls him) heavily foreshadows what is to come in later chapters of the book when he proposes a toast in honor of Lucky’s lost first love and childhood best friend, Nisha, after Lucky turns down possible hookups for the night.

Lucky and Kris return to their home, partnerless, when Lucky’s step-mother calls with news that her grandmother has fallen down the stairs. Lucky return to Boston and stays with her mother to help look after her grandmother while she heals, and while back home she learns that Nisha is getting married. Lucky’s mother insists she reconnect with Nisha, and once they begin spending more time together their former feelings bubble once more to the surface.

The restrictive and traditional views Lucky faces at home plague every page. Lucky and Nisha hide in corners, both wishing to keep the status quo and run away and be free to love who they want. As the story progresses, the need to choose—to continue to lie to their families for the sake of their comfort or to come out and be their true selves—crescendos and suddenly comes to a crash.

We are only given small remarks in the beginning, hinting at family dynamic and ignored memories. As time goes on, winter encroaches on Boston and a story is woven. The complicated family tapestry slowly comes together, yet as soon as we understand it the strings come undone.

Kelsey Cochran is an Editorial Intern at Ms. and a senior at Gettysburg College majoring in Globalization Studies with a focus in Western media portrayal of Arab countries. She aspires to be a photojournalist and has previously been published in her hometown’s independent newspaper The Bay Weekly. When she isn’t tracking down subjects to interview for her next article, you can find her running on the rugby field, taking her friend’s next profile picture or talking about her time spent abroad for the hundredth time. Find her on Tumblr.

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