Q&A with S.J. Sindu


Get to know 2018 Festival speaker S.J. Sindu, author of Marriage of a Thousand Lies

If you could make everyone in the world read one book, which would it be?

Oh, that’s a hard one! I’d have to say Elana Dykewomon’s Beyond the Pale. There’s so much in that one little book, and I feel like it never got the attention it deserved.

What is your favorite aspect of participating in book festivals?

I love meeting and interacting with readers. As a writer, I spend the majority of my time alone, with my computer and my thoughts, so it’s good to get out there and remind myself that I’m not just throwing words into the void, that these words are being heard and read and understood.

Which other speakers are you excited to see or hoping to meet at the Festival?

I hope to meet Carmen Maria Machado. I really love her new book, Her Body and Other Parties, and I’d love to chat with her more about gender and sexuality in fiction.

Which part of your book are you most proud of?

My book is unusual because of its content—it’s South Asian and queer and about a woman. I had a lot of pressure from publishers and agents, and even friends and family, to change it somehow, to make it less gay, to give it a storybook ending, to simplify it, to insert recipes, to over-explain the non-Western cultural aspects. I’m very proud that at every turn, I did what I thought was best for the book, not what gatekeepers wanted. It’s true to itself. It’s honest.

What are you working on next?

I’m finishing up a book about a young boy who grows up in the middle of a cult in India, as well as an epic fantasy novel.

In the 2018 Virginia Festival of the Book, S.J. Sindu will participate in Reading Under the Influence on March 23 as well as Youth in Revolt: Fiction that Refuses to Conform and Marriage Beyond Borders: Fact & Fiction, both on Saturday, March 24.