Shastri Akella at Harvard Book Store
The Sea Elephants:
in conversation with REIF LARSEN
July 24, 2023
7:00 PM ET
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes SHASTRI AKELLA—writer whose work has appeared in Guernica, The Master's Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and more—for a discussion of his debut novel The Sea Elephants. He will be joined in conversation with by New York Times-bestselling author, REIF LARSEN.
Update on Event Masking Policies
Masks are not required for this event. As of June 1, 2023, masks are encouraged but not required for most Harvard Book Store events, unless otherwise specified. Please review individual listings.
About The Sea Elephants
Shagun knows he will never be the kind of son his father demands. After the sudden deaths of his beloved twin sisters, Shagun flees his own guilt, his mother’s grief, and his father’s violent disapproval by enrolling at an all-boys boarding school. But he doesn’t find true belonging until he encounters a traveling theater troupe performing the Hindu myths of his childhood.
Welcomed by the other storytellers, Shagun thrives, easily embodying mortals and gods, men and women, and living on the road, where his father can’t catch him. When Shagun meets Marc, a charming photographer, he seems to have found the love he always longed for, too. 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.
Utterly immersive and spellbinding, The Sea Elephants is both dark and beautiful, harrowing and triumphant. An ode to the redemptive joys of art, Shastri Akella’s debut novel is a celebration of hard-won love―of others and for ourselves.
Praise for The Sea Elephants
“The Sea Elephants is intricate, surprising, tender, painful and lyrical. In this novel, written with nuance and grace, various forces are both juxtaposed and interwoven: cruelty and solidarity, love and trauma, bereavement and hope, loneliness and togetherness, torment and refuge, fear and bravery. This is a gorgeous, powerful, deeply moving novel that will stay with me—and, I think, many other readers—for a long time.” ―Moriel Rothman-Zecher, author of Before All the World and Sadness Is a White Bird
“A strikingly elegant and remarkably poised debut. Shagun’s voice rings true and clear through these chapters like the tides of a pristine, sparkling sea. I wanted to stay immersed in this gorgeous, dark, poignant bildungsroman filled with unaccountable desire, a deep aching to belong, hidden shame, love, and familial secrets from its first page to its very last.” ―Naheed Phiroze Patel, author of Mirror Made of Rain
“The Sea Elephants is a gorgeously-written novel, both meditative and poignant. An enchanting tale through mythology, desire and grief as one young man tries to carve a home for himself. Shastri Akella writes with a rare assuredness that is breathtaking.” ―Akil Kumarasamy, author of Meet Us By the Roaring Sea
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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