Book Review: Straight to Normal

Title: Straight to Normal
Author: Sharif D. Ragnekar
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Pages: 224
ISBN: 978-9353333669
Source: Publisher

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For the sake of labels and classification, this book is an autobiography of a gay man. But this won’t suffice because of the sheer power that this book carries. It a lucid rendition of what it means to be a gay in this country. The book serves as an exposition of the LGBTQ world of India. It talks about the difficult times of the 80s and the 90s, and also the more hopeful present.

“Our friendship did not have any definition…”

“I am not sure how to define the bond we shared…”

You know there is something but you don’t know what it is. This is what life is for the LGBTQ in India. They know that there is a life but they cannot live that life. The society has denied them that life; it has denied them definitions and instead provided with labels. One can feel the pain and sorrow for the LGBTQ when the author asks “Think of it-can a gay person be openly gay at work?”

Sharif’s story is that of ups and downs. When he writes in this book, he doesn’t write for himself only. He has penned down the autobiography of all those whom he represents. The book offers an insider’s perspective and answers several questions that people may have for the gay people.

… bonding was a problem not because of who we are but because of circumstances. … When any of ‘us’ meet, we snatch or grab the only commonality we have, that is our sexuality. In a way, many of us run the risk of falling in love with lust, missing the other dimensions of a person that are integral to cementing a partnership. ‘But you know what, even as we know this, we don’t mind erring time and again because it is far better than having no one!’

The book is a page-turner. While as a reader I really felt for him, at the same time I was happy for the support that his family offered. I liked how the title talks about homosexuality being seen as something normal and not just heterosexuality. And the book, in fact, traces this journey in the personal life of the author and the legal scenario of the country. But is the normal for the gay same as that for the straight?

“… I learnt, everything was normal. Hate was normal, the struggle was a reality, to speak up was not unusual and to have sex was natural.”

Highly recommended.

My Rating: ***** (4.5/5)

What do you think about this book? What are some of your favorite titles on LGBTQ? Do share your views. Thanks.


*I was kindly sent a review copy by the publisher. Views expressed are entirely personal and unbiased.*

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Straight to Normal

  1. Damn, LGBT culture in the 80s and 90s, that too in Indian culture. Truly difficult times they must’ve been.
    .
    I could sense from your review how thrilling the evocative the writing would have been. Great review post, Bhai!
    .
    .
    I just read your one post, something Global Reading… I don’t know, I really respect you much more after that. Because you dared to do what you love. I’m happy I know you. πŸ˜„

    Liked by 1 person

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