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Vivek Shraya

Vivek Shraya is a musician and writer who was raised in Western Canada. Between 2002 and 2009 she released five sound recordings. She completed a degree in English at the University of Alberta in Edmonton before relocating to Toronto where she worked in multiple medias: literature, music, performance and film. Shraya now lives in Calgary and teaches creative writing at the University of Calgary. Her non-fiction works include People Change (Penguin, 2022).

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

The Boy and the Bindi

Illustrations by Rajni Perera.
Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

In this beautiful children’s picture book by Vivek Shraya, author of the acclaimed God Loves Hair, a five-year-old South Asian boy becomes fascinated with his mother’s bindi, the red dot commonly worn by Hindu women to indicate the point at which creation begins, and wishes to have one of his own. Rather than chastise her son, she agrees to it, and teaches him about its cultural significance, allowing the boy to discover the magic of the bindi, which in turn gives him permission to be more fully himself.


Fiction (Short stories, Young adult)

God Loves Hair

Illustrations by Juliana Neufeld.
[Toronto: Vivek Shraya, 2010]
Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2014.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From the Arsenal Pulp Press website)

Shraya weaves a passionate, contemporary love story between a man and his body, with a re-imagining of Hindu mythology. Both narratives explore the complexities of embodiment and the damaging effects that policing gender and sexuality can have on the human heart.

Awards and Honours

2010 Lambda Literary Award–Children’s/Young Adult (Finalist)
2010 Applied Arts Award for Illustration (Winner)

Fiction, Juvenile (Picture book)

Revenge of the Raccoons

Illustrated by Juliana Neufeld.
Toronto: Owlkids, 2022.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Raccoons are hitting the streets to finally tell their story. The bushy-tailed bandits take over the town, swinging from cranes, scampering through subway cars, and pestering the police. Amid the mischief, the raccoons describe themselves as humans see them: thieving “trash pandas” that steal doughnuts and cash, topple our green bins, and frighten our cats. But when asked why they’re invading the city, the raccoons insist they aren’t pests, but survivors of the real invaders: humans.

Revenge of the Raccoons is both a riotous tale of underdog uprising and a clever commentary on humans’ sense of ownership over the cities we live in. Playful rhyming text and vibrant illustrations inspired by classic horror movie posters bring the raccoons’ antics to life.

Awards and Honours

2023 R. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Literature (Chapter books)(Writers’ Guild of Alberta) (Finalist)


She of the Mountains

Illustrated by Raymond Biesinger.
Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2014.
PS8637 .H73 S54 2014

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Shraya weaves a passionate, contemporary love story between a man and his body, with a re-imagining of Hindu mythology. Both narratives explore the complexities of embodiment and the damaging effects that policing gender and sexuality can have on the human heart.

Awards and Honours

2015 Lambda Literary Awards–Bisexual Fiction (Finalist)


The Subtweet: A Novel

Toronto: ECW Press, 2020.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Everyone talks about falling in love, but falling in friendship can be just as captivating. When Neela Devaki’s song is covered by internet-famous artist Rukmini, the two musicians meet and a transformative friendship begins.

But as Rukmini’s star rises and Neela’s stagnates, jealousy and self-doubt creep in. With a single tweet, their friendship implodes, one career is destroyed, and the two women find themselves at the center of an internet firestorm.

Celebrated multidisciplinary artist Vivek Shraya’s second novel is a stirring examination of making art in the modern era, a love letter to brown women, an authentic glimpse into the music industry, and a nuanced exploration of the promise and peril of being seen.


Even this Page is White

Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016.
PS8637 .H73 E84 2016

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Vivek’s debut collection of poetry, even this page is white, is a bold, timely, and personal interrogation of skin―its origins, functions, and limitations. Poems that range in style from starkly concrete to limber break down the barriers that prevent understanding of what it means to be racialized. Shraya paints the face of everyday racism with words, rendering it visible, tangible, and undeniable.

Awards and Honours

2017 Lambda Literary Award–Transgender Poetry (Finalist)
2017 Publishing Triangle Award for Trans and Gender-Variant Literature (Winner)


How to Fail as a Popstar

Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2021.
will be ordered

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Described as “cultural rocket fuel” by Vanity Fair, Vivek Shraya is a multi-media artist whose art, music, novels, and poetry and children’s books explore the beauty and the power of personal and cultural transformation. How to Fail as a Popstar is Vivek’s debut theatrical work, a one-person show that chronicles her journey from singing in shopping malls to “not quite” pop music superstardom with beguiling humor and insight. A reflection on the power of pop culture, dreams, disappointments, and self-determination, this astonishing work is a raw, honest, and hopeful depiction of the search to find one’s authentic voice.

The book includes colour photographs from the show’s 2020 production in Toronto, and a foreword by its director Brendan Healy.

Non-fiction (Autobiography/Memoir in Graphic Novel format)

Death Threat

Illustrated by Ness Lee
Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2019.
HQ77.06 .S47 2019

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

In the fall of 2017, the acclaimed writer and musician Vivek Shraya began receiving vivid and disturbing transphobic hate mail from a stranger. Celebrated artist Ness Lee brings these letters and Shraya’s responses to them to startling life in Death Threat, a comic book that, by its existence, becomes a compelling act of resistance. Using satire and surrealism, Death Threat is an unflinching portrayal of violent harassment from the perspective of both the perpetrator and the target, illustrating the dangers of online accessibility, and the ease with which vitriolic hatred can be spread digitally.

Awards and Honours

2020 Doug Wright Awards–Best Book (Finalist)
2020 Lambda Literary Award–LGBTQ Comics (Finalist)

Non-fiction (Autobiography/Memoir)

I’m Afraid of Men

Toronto: Penguin, 2018.
PS8637 .H73 Z46 2018

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

A trans artist explores how masculinity was imposed on her as a boy and continues to haunt her as a girl–and how we might reimagine gender for the twenty-first century.

Awards and Honours

2018 Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada–Prose Non-fiction (Tie, Winner)
2018 The Globe 100 (Globe and Mail, 1 Dec. 2018)
2019 Lambda Literary Award–Transgender Non-fiction (Finalist)

Non-fiction (Autobiography/Memoir)

Next Time There’s a Pandemic

Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2022.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

In Next Time There’s a Pandemic, artist Vivek Shraya reflects on how she might have approached 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic differently, and how challenging and changing pervasive expressions, attitudes, and behaviours might transform our experiences of life in—and after—the pandemic. What might happen if, rather than urging one another to “stay safe,” we focused instead on being caring? What if, instead of striving to “make the best of it” by doing something, we sometimes chose to do nothing? With generosity, Shraya captures the dissonances of this moment, urging us to keep showing up for each other so we are better prepared for the next time…and for all times.


Vivek Shraya personal website

Publisher Arsenal Pulp Press

Publisher ECW Press

Publisher Owlkids

Publisher Penguin Random House Canada

Publisher University of Alberta Press

Interview, with Elisha Lim, by Theodore Kerr in Lambda Literary

Interview, by Danila Botha, in Open Book 

Interview by Rachna Contractor in Plenitude Magazine (4 May 2014)