Book Review: Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai

Image Source: Penguin Books Australia

I would be caught between the boys and the girl's worlds, not belonging or wanted in either”. -Arjie Chelvaratnam[chapter 1]



Book Name: Funny boy

Author Name: Shyam Selvadurai

Genre:  Fiction

Language: English

Gender is socially constructed and socially enforced; it’s also socially repressed. This is nothing new.

The Funny boy is one of the best LGBT+ literature read. This novel is constructed in the form of six poignant stories about a boy belonging to a Tamil family. This novel is a first-person narrator, Arjie continues with his story of growing up in Sri Lanka. As the young boy who prefers to play with girls playing “bride-bride” instead of joining the boys playing ball in the ground.

About the Author

Shyam  Selvaduri [12 February 1965}is a Sri Lankan Canadian novelist. He is most noted for his 1994 novel funny boy, which won the Books in Canada first novel award and the lambda literary award for gay fiction. He published funny boy in 1994. He currently lives in Toronto with his partner Andrew Champion. He writes sensitively about the emotional intensity of adolescence.

About The Book

This is the first novel though not autobiographical draws on Salvadori's experience of being gay in Sri Lanka. This novel is been divided into six chapters the first few parts tell Arjie’s childhood and recalls the various episodes that introduce the whole family and the protagonist Arjie himself. 

The later chapters start to focus on the political tension brewing up in the nation and Arjie's discovery of his sexuality. The first chapter, Pigs can’t fly is about the dreams a child sees, the freedom he wants he gets. 

In the second chapter, Radha Aunty serves the reality of love and marriage under the pressure of caste and skin color. The third chapter, See No Evil, Hear No Evil, is about a character who developed into a paternal figure instead of the protagonist’s father and the true face of justice in caste conflict. 

The fourth chapter, small choices, is about the little choices one takes and as a result, who faces the consequence. The fifth chapter, The best school of all one of my favorite chapters is about how the narrator develops his homosexual feelings towards his friend and how he accepts it without caring about the image of society and family. 

The sixth chapter, Riot Journal, is about exile from one’s homeland because of baseless conflict between people. This novel tells us about the harsh reality of the real world Arjie, point of view, the funny boy is not just about the topic of homosexuality in a closed-minded society, it also tells about how political and regional conflicts affect people in Sri Lanka where Arjie resides with a role in the story. He was young and confused. 

Of course, transgender issues are separate from sexuality. But Arjie does realize is that he is very different from other boys. At the end of the novel, he and his family are forced to flee to the western world, which was more accepting.

This book is more humane than most of the books and deserves more limelight than it already has. It covers up a lot of things that a boy would feel about his family. His wants and cares and how they are fulfilled. The love story in here didn’t feel transitory: it felt like it should have lasted a lifetime; it was true love.

I could not rate this any higher and that’s because of the way it concluded. It can be a more powerful novel, dramatic too if they tried to fight for it and this can be ended in tragedy. This book serves a lot in the conflict between homosociality and homosexuality.

You can buy this book easily on Amazon: Funny Boy

Written By - Prachi Mann                              

Edited By - Anamika Malik

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