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Swimming in the Monsoon Sea
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Swimming in the Monsoon Sea

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  407 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Nominated for the Governor General's Literary Awards 2005, (Children's Literature, Text)

The setting is Sri Lanka, 1980, and it is the season of monsoons. Fourteen-year-old Amrith is caught up in the life of the cheerful, well-to-do household in which he is being raised by his vibrant Auntie Bundle and kindly Uncle Lucky. He tries not to think of his life “before,” when his...more
Paperback, 274 pages
Published August 14th 2007 by Tundra Books (first published September 13th 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 941)
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"Swimming in the Monsoon Sea" is about Amrith, a fourteen year boy who has a passion for acting, and has faced terrible tragedy by losing his parents at the age of seven. He has been living with his aunt's family (his mom's close friend) ever since. Now his holiday plans are beggining to look dull and unpromising, until his Canadian uncle and cousin come to visit. This book shares a theme with Shakespeare's Othello, a play that revolves around disastrous jealousy. The story takes place in Sri La...more
Nov 10, 2008 Ozimandias rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: exotic fetishists, fans of Lucien Lindamulage
This book tried really hard at making Sri Lanka one of the main characters: its sights, sounds, culture, traditions. In that, the author achieves, at least in showing the world of ridiculously wealthy Sri Lankans. What it doesn't do well is to tell the main story with any real sweep or passion. We get so much description about Amrith's surroundings that by the time Nerish comes, the book is more than half-way done. I also think the book tries too hard to get its parallel to 'Othello' in there an...more
Andrew Porteus
This beautifully written book recounts the personal awakening of Amrith, a 14 year old boy living a life of upper-class comfort in pre-Civil War Sri Lanka. The love Selvadurai has for his native country is evident in the descriptions of the architecture, landscape and the storms that pepper the book, as the time period covered is a school vacation during monsoon season with many forays into Amrith's and other characters past lives.

Even though some of the events that take place are quite savage,...more
Interesting coming of age story of a boy in Sri Lanka, falling in love with his cousin brother from Canada. Easy read, charming nonetheless.
Okay, here is the thing: Swimming in the Monsoon Sea is probably a very good look into the mind of a teenager with a Tragic Past on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Um, I mean, a sexual awakening, whatever - but that doesn't always make it very interesting. I'm not far off from teenagehood myself, and now I'm wondering what prevented me from killing all the boys I was growing up with.

I'm not totally clear on the rules of YA, so although I know this fits, I'm not sure if it is "good YA" or just...more
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Steve Woods
This is the second book by Selvadurai that I have read. Both are set around similar themes of coming of age of a gay boy in Sri Lanka. Apparently drawn heavily from personal experience, I have really enjoyed both of them. The stories are told with great sensitivity in a very simple straightforward style, the protagonist so easy to relate to. This one goes on the keep and share shelf. It is a beautiful book
Oct 23, 2007 Matt rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is an amazing book by an amazing writer. Its simplicity is its biggest USP, but let not the simplicity of the langauge fool you...It deals with a serious subject and does justice to the emotions and confusion of a 14 year old boy who finds himself in love with his male cousin.....And everyone who has experienced love at that tender age will identify with the charachters.. A Must Read!!
I started this book because of Amrith's love for Niresh but ended up loving the book because of Amrith's relationships with his adoptive family. The love between them is so obvious, though Amrith can't see it until the end. It was also nice seeing a different Sri Lanka than what I'm used to seeing in TV.

Beautifully written. I'll be reading more by this author after this.
duck reads
SIGH. This book is very charming and satisfying. A coming-of-age story about family and first love and jealousy and resentment and growing up and learning to move past things. Oh, and the protagonist is queer, nbd.
Lovely, lovely, lovely!!! A wonderful, touching coming of age story of a young 13 year old boy. Loved the slow pace and the abundance of description and rich detail. Absolutely stunning! Highly recommend it.
I quite enjoyed this coming of age novel. It's a young adult book about a Sri Lankan boy and his sexual (gay) awakening. Nicely written and subject was well-handled by the author.
It quite interesting. Given that I like it when the exploration of human behaviour happens in a lucid flow, not too much of a ruprise that I liked this book quite some.
This book beautifully captured the smells and sights of the pearl of the Indian ocean. Lovely writing! Made me reminisce my homeland.
Dec 27, 2010 Erica rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: queer
Only interesting because it takes place in Sri Lanka. A very eh book. I kept waiting for the big climax... but it never came.
Not the type of book I usually read, but somehow found it mildly entertaining. The scenery, the culture, and not to mention the main character whom - although was plenty hateful and envious - I couldn't help but sympathize with him. The fact that he wasn't perfect, the fact that he was a little boy. I was drawn towards the book mostly for its' GBLT title and although it wasn't one of the main points in the novel (especially since it was mostly acknowledged near the ending) I still did enjoy it a...more
Jul 30, 2011 Ali added it
This is a wonderful coming of age story
Lovely sweet book
3.5 -- I quite enjoyed this book. This is the first time I've read something by this author, as it's a novel I'll be teaching in the next week. If there is one thing I adore about this book, it's certainly how relationships are handled. Amrith is a fourteen year old boy who's being taken car of by his adoptive family. He also falls in love with Niresh, and is essentially coping with the fact that he is a homosexual teen still coming to terms with his sexuality and how he feels that others will v...more
Selvadurai, Shyam. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2005.

Genre: Canadian fiction
Age: 13+
Keywords: Coming of Age, Sri Lanka, loss of a parent, homosexuality, Othello, jealousy, early 1980s

4P 5Q

It is Monsoon season in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It is 1980 and fourteen year old Amrith lives with his wealthy Aunty Bundle and Uncle Lucky, as well as with their teenage daughters Mala and Selvi, at their spacious family home. Though participating in summer rehearsals for a fall production...more
Jyllian Martini
Aug 23, 2009 Jyllian Martini rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: depends
I wrote this for my adolescent lit class according to that class's guidelines.
Fiction . 2005 Lambda Literary Award. Nominated for the Governor General's Literary Awards 2005, (Children's Literature, Text)

In 1980s Sri Lanka and 14 year old Amrith is not looking forward to the summer monsoon season. He doesn’t have much planned and he isn’t happy. Amrith can’t stop thinking about what was: the home he once lived in, the parents he once had, the fear and love he used to feel. Now he lives with his...more
The dust jacket makes it seem like this novel is just about a boy falling in love with another boy, but really, Amrith's love for Niresh is only peripheral to the plot. More important is Amrith's reconciling his feelings about his dead parents and the trouble in their families, and his adoptive parents and sisters, whom he both loves and hates. All the main characters in the story are fully real, and Amrith's growing maturity is well portrayed.

However, this book did have some flaws. It was overl...more
It's just another boring summer vacation for fourteen-year-old Sri Lankan boy Amrith. With little to look forward to and no friends his age, Amrith dreads the impending weeks. He spends his mornings learning typing with his kindly Uncle Lucky and his afternoons practicing for a role in his school's adaptation of Othello. Amrith is content with these activities, but feels despondent and lonely. All of that changes with the unexpected arrival of his Canadian cousin Niresh.

My Thoughts:
I remember loving Funny Boy, I think (I read it a long time ago) because of the way Selvadurai set the main character's discovery of his sexual identity against the backdrop of the Sri Lankan civil war. I love books where I can not only become involved in a character's self-discovery, but can also learn about the history of a country. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea is a good story but I didn't feel like I learned much about Sri Lanka. This is a young adult book so perhaps it's just intended to be l...more
Here's what I loved about this book: the protagonist is a teen who is having a (gay) sexual awakening, but the way it happens is subtle. It is intertwined delicately through all of the other issues in his life (family struggles, school dramas, cross-cultural relationships, etc.) and although it is important to the story, even central to it, it's not your typical sexual-awakening teen novel. All of the issues in the book, including sexuality, arise totally organically and naturally within the con...more
Again, not an erotic book, but rather geared to young people. It's an interesting and compelling tale of young love in Sri Lanka in the 80s. 13 year old Amrith comes of age in the home of his aunt and uncle. When his handsome cousin comes from Canada to visit, Amrith develops a crush on the young man. As the story goes on, you learn how lonely Amrith is after the death of his mother and father, even though his aunt and uncle are kind to him. When his love for his cousin Nireth takes a wrong turn...more
Doug Gordy
Perhaps because it was designed as a YA novel, I didn't find Selvadurai's 3rd book quite as compelling or complex as the first 2... but still a great read...
Ayon Maity
A must read book
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Shyam Selvadurai is a Sri Lankan-Canadian novelist who wrote Funny Boy (1994), which won the Books in Canada First Novel Award, and Cinnamon Gardens (1998). He currently lives in Toronto with his partner Andrew Champion.

Selvadurai was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka to a Sinhalese mother and a Tamil father--members of conflicting ethnic groups whose troubles form a major theme in his work. Ethnic riots...more
More about Shyam Selvadurai...
Funny Boy Cinnamon Gardens The Hungry Ghosts Story-Wallah: Short Fiction from South Asian Writers Many Roads through Paradise: An Anthology of Sri Lankan Literature

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