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Funny Boy: A Novel by [Shyam Selvadurai]

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Funny Boy: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 536 ratings

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Product description

From Booklist

Although this falls into the crowded coming-of-age category, Selvadurai adds the foreign, funny, and unusual in a novel that is as personal as it is political. While growing up in Sri Lanka amid Tamil and Sinhalese conflicts, Arjie, a young boy who likes to play with dolls and girls, observes the social constraints abhorred and perpetuated within his own family and in society at large. Through the details of family life, the intimacies and exchanges, Selvadurai, much like E. M. Forster, reveals truths subtly, with poignancy and grace. Selvadurai has created an endearing character in Arjie, an impish boy who is always in trouble with his rigid parents, yet gains the confidence of "outsiders," those attempting to rebel against foolish social injustices: an aunt almost ready to reject family and social pressure by marrying a Sinhalese man; a schoolboy who is sexually abused by the head prefect and who wants to disclose his own homosexuality. Arjie's witnessing of prejudice and violence shatters his security by degrees, awakening him to the acceptance of his own gay identity and his isolation from both his family and conventional society. Janet St. John --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

From the Back Cover

“Shyam Selvadurai has brought back from his Sri Lankan childhood 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 I understand you. I was there. I remember.”
–Alberto Manguel

“He spins a subtle web that holds readers captive.…”
Saskatoon StarPhoenix

“A powerful and beautifully written novel.…”
Literary Review (U.K.)

“Lyrical, moving, and deeply perceptive. This isn’t the first coming-of-age story ever written, but I doubt there’s been one quite like it.”
Halifax Chronicle-Herald
--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B00MTSRD1U
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (14 July 2015)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1221 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 306 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 536 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
536 global ratings

Top reviews from India

Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 19 March 2022
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very important piece of literature!
Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 19 March 2022
Impressed 💝
***2022 Favourite Book***
🔆Beautiful prose; life changing moments; heartbreaking romances (more than you can handle probably!); riots and communal violence; big family drama; school life; LGBTQIAP rep

Let’s talk about stereotypes!

💔 still a very underrated gem

I just couldn’t put down this book as the writing and the narrator did something to my mind hitting me hard once I get to know the characters and how the story started with such a lukewarm welcome that I found it quite comforting despite the horrors I was going to face knowing the secrets of each of the characters introduced.

Yes, hidden secrets and protected memories play a huge part in this story.

Narrated by a young person who is growing up quite innocently in a huge household, playing happily with the girls and loving the most precious moments with their mother watching her get ready for the day, the harsh reality gets thrown to them passive aggressively once people around them gets uncomfortable with their preferences and tastes.

What would people say plays a major role more significantly in the main character’s life than everyone else’s and nobody, I say, not even their parents and the adults who are supposed to protect them, are the ones who are making their life miserable more than the ‘people’ they are talking about.

This book gave me major Japanese and Thai BL vibes. Also, there’s a major school scene which reminds me so much of the ‘Three Idiots’ movie. You will know what I am talking about when you read this book.

Know their secrets. Know the dirty faces of the society. Know the reality of discrimination. Know the harsh truths of being born differently. This book has so many important things to tell you.

Absolutely recommending this book as a once in a lifetime unforgettable read.

*trigger warnings for corporal punishment scenes, homophobic comments, assault and abuse
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 28 September 2021
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4.0 out of 5 stars Navigating Sexuality and Forced Diaspora
Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 28 September 2021
"Why can't he play with girls?"

'Why?' Amma stared up the car, "Because the sky is so high and pigs can't fly"

'Funny Boy' by Shyam Selvadurai

The setting of the book is taut with political conflicts, sexual awakening and abandonment, reading the anticipated books from my bookshelf is really intimidating, sometimes it would disappoint me and destroy my expectancy, otherwise, it would break my heart to pieces, 'Funny Boy' resides in the latter category, throughout the book, I felt abandonment, the characters are abandoning people because of their race, political beliefs, sexuality. The constant abandoning throughout the novel intensifies the fact that the war period in a region will create an agonizing rift between people.

The novel is exquisite, written in the background of Tamil Sinhalese conflict, it unfolds the story of a young boy who is navigating his sexuality.

I wanted to read this book to explore the emotions of the characters in the background of fuming conflicts and tensions, Arjun Chelvarathnam is our protagonist who perceives the horrors and the trauma, his community is facing, while he's trying to navigate his sexuality, he's also going through the traumatizing events, the author has extensively sketched the setting of Tamil Sinhalese(Srilankan Civil War) conflict that happened for more than two decades, he's narrated the agonizing events and how the characters are discerning a situation, altering their political views and struggling in the suffocating environment. The author has also dealt with the forced diaspora and how the characters are threatened to breathe in their own lands.

'Funny Boy' is a breathtaking novel written in a heart rending tone. Recommending this poignant piece to those who want to read a moving war story.
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 4 March 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great narrative journey!
Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 4 March 2021
I will be honest. Contrary to the popular saying, do not judge a book by its covers, it was the soft orange that ran the length of the book, the silhouette of a boat against the backdrop of a green sea, the occasional dark clouds sprinkled at the top, and an unconventional and a traditional way in which the word Boy was written on the cover that made me want to glance at the copy. I picked it up, read the brief story in the back, skimmed through the pages, and decided to buy it. Of course, this was 8 years ago.

I picked up the book for the second time last week and started reading the first couple of pages. I realised that I had not retained anything. Good, I thought. I made myself comfortable and started going at it page after page.

The story is narrated by a young boy, Arjie. Spread across multiple standalone chapters, the story captures his life, his relationships with his Tamil family, and his explorations as a "funny" boy against the backdrop of an intense political intrigue in Sri Lanka. Although every chapter has its own story and stands on its own, the stories are arranged linearly, moving as he grows older and arriving at a destructive climax, hinted at in small doses through the book.

It is extremely interesting to experience the naivety of a young boy, still unaware and partially unbothered and read his account of the political movement accentuated by his confusion, fear, and complete loss of control. The writer, Shyam Selvadurai, has captured these elements stunningly. No chapter seemed unnecessary. This tale of a boy thrust into a life too complicated to comprehend, too gruesome to withstand, and too contradictory to his life values relies heavily on simplicity in capturing the complex world and it works magically as you read through the book.

I cannot wait to look back years later, completely unaware and having retained nothing and pick up this beautifully written back and burn through it in a couple of days. For now, I will be picking up Cinnamon Gardens and hope that it will evoke the same emotions as Funny Boy did.
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Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 31 January 2023

Top reviews from other countries

4.0 out of 5 stars Moving and edifying
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 14 November 2020
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2 people found this helpful
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Paul P.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, now a movie
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 28 January 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic novel - read it now
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 16 February 2019
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Sri Lankan gay novel
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 21 July 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hits the perfect spot
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 17 December 2019
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