DOMINANT GENES, the new hybrid collection from Stonewall Honor author and Lambda Literary Award finalist SJ Sindu, is equal parts power and astonishing beauty, tenderness and shimmering anger, poetry and lyric essays interwoven in a gorgeous exploration of family, heritage, and the construction of nonbinary and queer identities. "We learn our anger through osmosis," Sindu writes of the inherited rage of South Asian women, "or maybe it's in the breast milk, spreading through our veins long before we learn how to look only at the floor and walk without showing our ankles."
There is hope in this collection, and the lead weight of expectation, and warm moments of empathy too. Thematically linked and stylistically nimble, Sindu's pieces play with the fragmentary nature of memory and identity, her speakers traversing with intelligence and compassion the complexities of mental health, love, and pressurized relationships with the people closest to us—those who love us intensely, even when they understand us the least.
"In SJ Sindu's extraordinary new chapbook, her speaker lives in a *world in which women are punished for their pleasure, rage, and attempts at freedom. Exploring ancient stories, like the Mahabharata, as well as the speaker's own experiences growing up as a queer person in Sri Lanka and the US, DOMINANT GENES pulls at the strings that have stitched together our identities, making clear the social and cultural constraints that limit the freedom of women and gender nonconforming people. With tenderness and compassion toward her family, this smart, unflinching collection envisions a life for the speaker in which she does not inherit misogyny or her mother's idea of progress, a life in which she is the "seed in her own fruit."—Marianne Chan
"SJ Sindu's new book DOMINANT GENES demonstrates the great pleasures and opportunities for surprise there are in hybrid forms. It's what I like best as a reader: prose that understands the compression and vivid language of poetry and poetry that benefits greatly from the fiction maker's sense of scene and story. There's a wonderful lyric intensity here and beautifully nuanced interiority that I find deeply moving. A beautiful book written by an artist who moves fluidly between genres."—Erin Belieu
"'I want to inherit your anger, and use your story to stitch my two selves back together,' writes SJ Sindu in this hybrid collection, poems and lyric essays weaving together the fragments of a life bifurcated across racial, familial, and queer identities. Blurring both genre and gender, Sindu questions descendancy, dominant genes something to unspool, silence something to unstitch, rage a means of survival. Yet as this collection undoes Sri Lankan matrilineal expectation, pulling at the faithless thread of what it means to inherit a story that does not serve you, it spins a richer myth of legacy and self, one that pierces like a needle."—Sarah Fawn Montgomery
author siteExcerpt @ Honey LiteraryFeature @ The Cincinnati Review
SJ Sindu is a Tamil diaspora author of two literary novels, two hybrid chapbooks, and a forthcoming graphic novel. Her first novel, Marriage of a Thousand Lies, won the Publishing Triangle Edmund White Award and was a Stonewall Honor Book and a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. Sindu's second novel, Blue-Skinned Gods, was published in November 2021 by Soho Press, and her graphic novel, Shakti, is forthcoming from Harper Collins. Sindu's hybrid fiction and nonfiction chapbook, I Once Met You But You Were Dead, won the Turnbuckle Chapbook contest and was published by Split/Lip Press. A 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow, Sindu holds an MA in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a PhD in English and Creative Writing from Florida State University.Author City: TORONTO, ON CAN