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Desert Queen



Levine Querido

(pub. 10.24.2023)

56 pages

Ages 7-14

Author : Jyoti Rajan Gopal

and Illustrator: Svabhu Kohl


Character: Queen Harish/ Harish Kumar


" Fueled by an inner fire, young Harish yearns to join the captivating desert dancers, their music pulsing through his veins. But societal constraints paint a narrow path, one that clashes with his vibrant spirit. Through lyrical stanzas and Svabhu Kohli's evocative art, Harish's story unfolds, a tapestry woven with resilience and the transformative power of dance.

From village gatherings to Bollywood stages, Queen Harish twirls her way into hearts, leaving a trail of shattered stereotypes and empowering others to embrace their true selves. This is a celebration of courage, finding your inner queen, and dancing to your own rhythm."

Tantalizing taste:


deep down

he clings

to the spark that was lit,

and he wonders,

can he?

Dare he?

Not softly.

Not quietly.

But for all to see.

For two years,

The dancer lives two lives.

Jeers and insults in the day.

Acclaim and applause at night."

And something more: Jyoti Rajan Gopal, in the Author's Note explains that "Desert Queen was inspired by drag performer Queen Harish, known as the 'Whirling Desert Queen of Rajasthan.' I met her at a concert in Rajasthan, India, in the middle of the Thar Desert, where she performed every year. She mesmerized us with her talent, but I was most struck by the compassion, humor, and love that radiated from her when she spoke. She had every single member of the audience, from the youngest to the oldest, captivated."

Jyoti Rajan Gopal's dedication for the book is "To those who dare. Not softly. Not quietly. Thank you for your inspiration."


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