Information about the author.
In Buddhist myth, the dead may be reborn as “hungry ghosts”—spirits with stomach so large they can never be full—if they have desired too much during their lives. It is the duty of the living relatives to free those doomed to this fate by doing kind deeds and creating good karma. In Shyam Selvadurai’s sweeping new novel, his first in more than a decade, he creates an unforgettable ghost, a powerful Sri Lankan matriarch whose wily ways, insatiable longing for land, houses, money and control, and tragic blindness to the human needs of those around her parallels the volatile political situation of her war-torn country.
The novel centres around Shivan Rassiah, the beloved grandson, who is of mixed Tamil and Sinhalese lineage, and who also—to his grandmother’s dismay—grows from beautiful boy to striking gay man. As the novel opens in the present day, Shivan, now living in Canada, is preparing to travel back to Colombo, Sri Lanka, to rescue his elderly and ailing grandmother, to remove her…[more]
Funny Boy is the debut of an extraordinary new voice in literary fiction. Set in Sri Lanka, it is a haunting novel about a boy growing up within an extended upper-middle-class family. Shyam Selvadurai subtly juxtaposes a boy’s passage to adolescence and maturity with the upheavals of growing ethnic tension and civil unrest.
Arjie, the protagonist, is “funny”: He likes to wear a sari and play with girls—and he hates sports. His bittersweet journey from the luminous simplicity of childhood days into the more intricately shaded world of adults—with its secrets, its ultimate capacity for violence and injustice—is beautifully rendered. And it is through Arjie’s eyes that we meet a delightful, sometimes eccentric, cast of characters. Among them: Arjie’s imposing grandmother, whose ideas of propriety are tested when one of her daughters returns from America; a young cousin, “Her Fatness,” who disturbs the natural order of things in a childhood…[more]