Synopses & Reviews
Sam Kandy, born to low prospects in a Ceylon village in 1899, dies a hundred years later as the wealthy headman of the same village—a self-made shipping magnate and the father of sixteen who’s been married three times and widowed twice.
Told in four parts, this enthralling novel traces Sam’s story from his boyhood—when his parents, convinced by his horoscope that he’d be a blight upon the family, abandon him at the gates of a distant temple—through to his dramatic escape from the temple, his daring journey across Ceylon to Australia and Singapore, and his bold return to the Ceylon village he once called home. There, he tries to win recognition for his success in the world—at any cost.
A novel about family, pride, and ambition set on a gorgeous, troubled island caught between tradition and modernity, Beggar’s Feast establishes Boyagoda as a major voice in international literature.
“a multifaceted, engrossing story… Prepare for a verbal feast that will thoroughly entertain and satisfy, yet leave you hungering for more.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“. . . a parable for modernized, globalized, restless identity.”
— New York Journal of Books
"Boyagoda does a superb job of telling this century-long tale... It’s entertaining, with much insight into the life and times of that era in the East. Recommended."
— Historical Novels Review
“Rags-to-riches narratives seldom have much humbler starting points than the Ceylon village where Beggar’s Feast’s protagonist is born … He’s Naipaul’s Mr. Biswas as unapologetic success rather than embittered failure, Richler’s Duddy Kravitz followed far past his apprenticeship. If you’ve found a place in your heart for either of those complicated figures, make way for Sam Kandy.”
“Boyagoda, a sharp and subtle writer, slips easily into many different characters’ heads and their internal rhythms, and lyrical lines abound … A satirical feast.”
—The Globe and Mail
“[Boyagoda’s narrative voice] is as lush as the tropical landscape of Ceylon … The language is also charged with vitality and allows for the emergence, from time to time, of stark human truths.”
About the Author
New York Times book reviewer RANDY BOYAGODA’s first novel, Governor of the Northern Province was critically acclaimed and long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.His writing has appeared in publications including Harper's, The Walrus, National Post, and The Globe and Mail. He is a professor of American studies at Ryerson University.