Funny Boy

Funny Boy

by Shyam Selvadurai

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An evocative coming-of-age novel about growing up gay in Sri Lanka during the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict—one of the country’s most turbulent and deadly periods.

Arjie is “funny.”

The second son of a privileged family in Sri Lanka, he prefers staging make-believe wedding pageants with his female cousins to battling 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 an adult world. Bewildered by his incipient sexual awakening, mortified by the bloody Tamil-Sinhalese conflicts that threaten to tear apart his homeland, Arjie painfully grows toward manhood and an understanding of his own “different” identity.

Refreshing, raw, and poignant, Funny Boy is an exquisitely written, compassionate tale of a boy’s coming-of-age that quietly confounds expectations of love, family, and country as it delivers the powerful message of staying true to one’s self no matter the obstacles.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062383464
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/14/2015
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 35,785
File size: 622 KB

About the Author

Shyam Selvadurai was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Funny Boy, his first novel, won the W.H. Smith/ Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Lambda Literary Award in the United States. He is the author of Cinnamon Gardens and Swimming in the Monsoon Sea, and the editor of an anthology, Story-wallah! A Celebration of South Asian Fiction. His books have been published in the United States, United Kingdom, and India, and in translation.

What People are Saying About This

Amitav Ghosh

An extraordinarily powerful, deeply moving novel.

Andrew Holleran

Completely fascinating, this touching novel of a childhood in Sir Lanka juxtaposes innocence and knowledge, love and hatred, in an unforgettable evocation of what family Samioi means.

Alberto Manguel

A glittering and wise novel. Funny Boy keeps repeating with quiet conviction that the human condition can, in spite of everything, be joyful. You are not alone, it says to the reader.

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Funny Boy 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
eargent on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I seem to be going through a phase of reading east Indian authors and I am enjoying the books very much. This was another great one.
Nickelini on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In a sentence, this is the story of a young boy growing up in Sri Lanka during the civil war and slowly realizing that he's gay. But it in the bigger picture, it's about anyone who is different and growing up in any traditional culture and family, and the confrontation with injustice. Beautifully and sensitively written. Although the author doesn't cover the Edenic qualities of Sri Lanka that I so love in novels by Michael Ondaatje and Roma Tearne, I still loved this book. Highly recommended for readers who appreciate quality fiction.
ocgreg34 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Arjie Chelvaratnam enjoys his spend-the-days at the home of his grandparents in Colombo, Sri Lanka. While the older boys try to beacheachother at cricket or other sports, he spends the time playing bride-bride with the girls, somehow always managing to be the bride in a beautiful white sari. Then his cousin Tanuja arrives -- nicknamed "Her Fatness" -- and soon she reveals to the entire family just wht Arjie's up to. After that, his parents force him to do more manly things to prevent him from becoming "funny", like switching schools to the more sadistic Queen Victoria Academy.But school's aren't the only thing changing in Arjie's world. Through a series of events involving everyone in his family: his favorite dark skinned Radha Aunty finally home from America; a former lover of his mother's showing up unexpectedly to research the growing anti-Tamil climate in Sri Lanka; his father hiring a former Tamil Tiger to work as a supervisor at his hotel in predominantly Sinhalese country. Arjie realizes how society's perception of differences can have a severe impact, especially during the climax of "Funny Boy" which acts as a moment by moment account of the 1983 anti-Tamil riots that racked the country.What begins as a simple coming out tale turns into a portrait of a country at war, seen through the eyes of a young boy as he tries to deal with his budding sexuality amidst a volatile climate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Arjie is a 'funny boy' who prefers dressing as a girl. This novel follows the life of his family through Arjie's eyes as he struggles to come to terms both with his own homosexuality and with the racism of the society in which he lives. In the north of Sri Lanka there's a war going on between the army and the Tamil Tigers, and gradually it begins to encroach on the family's comfortable life. Sporadic acts of violence flare into full-scale riots and lead, ultimately, to tragedy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Funny Boy is a very moving novel about Shyam Selvadurai growing up in Sri Lanka. Selvaduri was born into a Tamil family, but was exposed to both the Sinhalese and the Tamil culture. It was difficult for his family to practice both lifestyles because there was a great controversy going on between the two societies. The entire novel is divided between important chapters of Selvaduri¿s life. It begins with stories when Arjie(his childhood name), his siblings, and cousins would visit their grandparents for ¿spend-the-days.¿ Later, it progressed to stories of his aunt¿s visits, his mother¿s affair, and his school days. Throughout the novel, Arjie is accused of being ¿Funny¿(gay) by his family because of his famine characteristics. Because he is still growing up, he is not sure of his sexual identity, but when he enters a new school he learns a lot about himself. At this school he meets a particular individual who changed his life and helps Arjie discover who he truly is. This book is touching and a great read. I would recommend it to all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A gay fiction book that you can't put down, and is for everyone to read! A very touching and powerful story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great book--beautiful, touching, powerful. Great by any measure--better than most self-consciously 'gay fiction,' this is profound human drama against a powerful historical backdrop.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I always wonder if the people who write these reviews are friends of the author. Trust me--this is a fantastic read, and I don't know anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A beautiful story of a personal journey and a wonderful trip into the people and politics of Sri Lanka. One of the best gay fiction books I have ever read - will touch, move and inform you. Comparable to 'The Man Who Fell In Love With the Moon.'