Rakesh Satyal, friend of BrooklynTheBorough.com and author of the novel Blue Boy (Kensington, 2009), recently won the Gay Debut Fiction Award at the 22nd Annual Lambda Literary Awards. Upon being presented with the award, Rakesh broken into song – something that he’s well known for doing at regular cabaret appearances – and this time he caught the attention of the New Yorker. We chatted with the Fort Greene-based author via email about the award, his speech and if a potential second, musical career path is in store for him.
BrooklynTheBorough: What is it like to be honored by Lambda Literary with the Gay Debut Fiction Award? Is this the first award Blue Boy has won?
Rakesh Satyal: It was flattering and inspiring to win the award, especially during a year when I feel that LGBT literature was particularly impressive and visible. It was so gratifying to sit in an auditorium full of people who believed in and championed LGBT books and their publishers. And yes, this is the first actual award that the book has won, so I am ecstatic.
BrooklynTheBorough: How did you come to the idea of doing your acceptance speech ala Lady Gaga?
Rakesh Satyal: My ham button is perpetually pressed, so it didn’t take much to think of doing a song. And, well, what song has been more on the collective gaydar in the past year than “Bad Romance”? Also, it was great to do a song in which I could incorporate the correct pronunciation of my name, which is often butchered.
BrooklynTheBorough: New fans may just be learning about your amazing singing ability, as captured in a growing YouTube video collection. Do you have a second career going now?
Rakesh Satyal: My publishing life certainly takes precedence in the pecking order, but I love singing more than anything. I don’t have the best voice in a technical sense, but I bring a lot of passion and enthusiasm to singing, and that’s what I hope people take from it, career or not!
BrooklynTheBorough: Can you give us a sneak peak at any upcoming project(s) in the works? Where can we see you perform next?
Rakesh Satyal: I am working on a new novel and hope to do another proper cabaret show in the next month or two. In the meantime, the paperback of another Lambda-winning book, which I edited, goes on sale on June 29: Lake Overturn by the divine — and divinely named — Vestal McIntyre. It’s a modern classic, and everyone should read it.