An Indian public health scholar describes the difficult experience of growing up gay in India, coming of age during the AIDS crisis, and his journey to the United States to study at the intersection of healthcare, sexuality, gender expression, and human rights.
The new memoir An Indefinite Sentence by Siddharth Dube is likely to especially resonate with U.S. readers where it’s easy to forget that being out in other parts of the world can be a radically different experience ... you’ll be lulled into a veil of serenity. That is due completely to the prose with which Dube tells his story: it’s soft and formal but with elegant slang and a very surprising willingness to use profanity in a matter-of-fact way that still feels like a slap. Dube shares his life and his travels by mixing shades of his faith along with tales of men he loved platonically and otherwise, female sex workers who bore the most blame on the spread of disease and the politics of and attitudes toward AIDS around the world. This, too, is told with outraged mindfulness that feels like a burning torch wrapped in tranquility. It’s stirring and calming, funny and sad and easily sustains interest throughout.
It’s in combining his personal story with the ravages of AIDS he witnessed that Dube advances the genre of queer memoirs in India ... His critical and vivid reporting of the time brings to mind the achievements of David France in How to Survive a Plague ... Dube gives his readers the substantial gift of hope. The sentiment is, in fact, the spine of his memoir.
...[an] insightful memoir, which is as much about [Dube's] work as his personal life, though he writes movingly about his search for love and an enduring relationship, the latter often proving elusive. Readers will find his autobiography memorable and especially valuable as a contribution to the body of AIDS literature.