Shagun knows he will never be the kind of son his father demands. After the agonizing deaths of his beloved twin sisters, he flees his own guilt, his mother's grief, and his father's violent disapproval by enrolling at an all-boys boarding school. He forms tumultuous and eye-opening relationships there, but doesn't find true belonging till he encounters a traveling theater troupe performing the myths of his childhood.
Welcomed by other storytellers, Shagun thrives-easily embodying mortals and gods, men and women-and embraces a life on the move, far from his father's clutches. When Shagun meets Marc, a charming photographer, he seems to have found the love he always longed for. But not even Marc can save him from his lingering shame, nor his father's ever-present threat to send him to a conversion center. As Shagun's past begins to engulf him once again, he must decide if he is strong enough to face what he fears most, and to boldly claim his own happiness.
Set in 1990s India,The Sea Elephants is an utterly immersive and spellbinding novel, both dark and beautiful, harrowing and triumphant. An ode to the redemptive joys of storytelling, Shastri Akella's soulful debut is a celebration of hard-won love-of others and for ourselves.
Shastri Akella holds an MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His writing has appeared in Guernica, The Masters Review, Electric Literature, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rumpus, PANK, The Common, and World Literature Review, among others. The Sea Elephants is his debut novel