Synopses & Reviews
The second son of a privileged family in Sri Lanka, Arjie prefers staging make-believe weddings with his female cousins than batting balls with the other boys. When his parents discover his innocent pastime, Arjie is forced to abandon his idyllic childhood games and adopt the rigid rules of the adult world. Bewildered by his incipient sexual awakening, Arjie painfully grows toward manhood and an understanding of his own "different" identity.
"Shyam Selvadurai, a native Sri Lankan, weaves a spider web of a narrative in Funny Boy, a delicate yet potent first novel....While Selvadurai's gestures are grand, his execution is disarmingly modest....Although we follow young Arjie through almost a decade of his life and witness his awakening homosexuality, this book is, happily, much more than a coming-of age (and coming out) novel. Selvadurai's rich prose style, gently spiced with humor, captures the political as well as the personal in Arjie's world....[S]elf-indulgence never tiptoes in....[C]learly, the only reason any of this works is Selvadurai's shrewd storytelling he creates stories fat with all the good stuff: characters, plot and action. Funny Boy is a very promising debut." A. Scott Cardwell, Salon.com
"With deft humor and a keen eye, Selvadurai...captures his protagonist's difficult passage into his own identity of which his homosexuality is just one component. And it is with deep, wistful feeling that he ties that story to larger themes of family and country." Publishers Weekly
"Although this falls into the crowded coming-of-age category, Selvadurai adds the foreign, funny, and unusual....Through the details of family life, the intimacies and exchanges, Selvadurai, much like E. M. Forster, reveals truths subtly, with poignancy and grace." Janet St. John, Booklist
"A marvelous first novel...that displays a precociously assured command of structure, pace, and tone....First-rate fiction, from a brilliant new writer whose next book cannot arrive here quickly enough." Kirkus Reviews
“A marvelous first novel, about growing up gay in Sri Lanka...from a brilliant new writer whose next book cannot arrive here quickly enough” (Kirkus Reviews).
About the Author
Shyam Selvadurai was born in 1965 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He came to Canada with his family at the age of nineteen. He has studied creative writing and theatre, and has a B.F.A. from York University.
Funny Boy, his first novel, was published to immediate acclaim in 1994, was a national bestseller, and won the W. H. SmithBooks in Canada First Novel Award and, in the U.S., The Lambda Literary Award, and was named a Notable Book by the American Library Association. Cinnamon Gardens, his second novel, was shortlisted for the Trillium Award. It has been published in the U.S., the U.K., India, and numerous countries in Europe.