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Article

Funny Boy

Posted on

Funny Boy

type:
Book
Current Status:
In Season
author:
Shyam Selvadurai
publisher:
Morrow
genre:
Fiction

We gave it an A-

There’s not a shred of false optimism in Funny Boy, the delicately balanced coming-of-age novel by Shyam Selvadurai, a remarkably talented young writer who was born in Sri Lanka in 1965 and now lives in exile in Canada. By the time he’s 16, Arjie, a member of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority, knows that politicians are corrupt, his father is a coward, and his neighbors ā€” the Sinhalese majority ā€” want to kill him. Selvadurai deftly filters ugly politics through tender, close-up scenes of family life: children’s games, amateur theatricals, love affairs. Race hatred taints them all. British colonial holdovers (cricket, corporal punishment, and Latin poetry at the Queen Victoria Academy) enhance the atmosphere of madness masquerading as normalcy. Only love can cross the racial barriers ā€” and not for long. A-