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Cinnamon Gardens

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  1,069 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
Lush and beautiful, Cinnamon Gardens is a story of intertwined lives in the gracious world of Ceylon in the 1920s In a novel of exceptional achievement, Shyam Selvadurai evokes the life of the upper classes of Colombo's wealthy suburb, Cinnamon Gardens, at a time when the power of colonial rule in the country is shifting. It tells the story of Annalukshmi, a young schoolte ...more
Published October 14th 2000 by Penguin India (first published September 30th 1998)
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Tea Jovanović
Jeste da se malo slomi jezik dok se izgovori ime autora pravilno (Šajem Selvadurai), ali je ovaj kanadski autor zaista vredan pažnja... Kod ans ga je objavila Laguna u sjajnom prevodu Jelene Stakić... Cejlon pre 100 godina... Egzotika...
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
For some reason I expected this to be a dense, literary sort of book, which it is not. In fact it is light historical fiction, an easy and quick read that should appeal to the popular imagination; I’m surprised it’s as little-known as it is.

In 1920s Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon), Annalukshmi is a young teacher, more interested in career advancement than finding a suitable husband, to the chagrin of the upper-class society to which she belongs. Her uncle, Balendran, appears to be a respectable
Jun 11, 2010 Erastes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-historical
I found this a fascinating read, partly because I had only just finished “Burmese Days” by George Orwell and the parallels are easy to see, even though it was obvious that they come from completely different directions. Both books deal with the English Raj – one in Burma, one in Ceylon – but one is written from the point of view of the priviledged and ruling whites, whilst Cinnamon Gardens is written from the point of the view of the privileged native population of Ceylon.

I knew next to nothing
Michael Armijo
Nov 02, 2010 Michael Armijo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Purely Excellent for all one may learn & retain...

This novel did overly use one of my all-time favorite words: VERANDAH. However, it's still worth taking the time to get lost in the authors' world. It took me to a new culture and another part of a dramatic world. It's interesting how a world apart is really so much the same in any world. There were two story lines about an uncle & his niece that merged into one as if a masterpiece. Each chapter began with a profound verse from the Tirukk
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Sri Lanka in the 1920s was a British colony called Ceylon. Already divided along caste and ethnic lines, the British encouraged the divide, raising up some natives to rule, in small ways, over others. Annalukshmi Kandiah is the eldest daughter of Louisa, who came from one of the oldest Christian Tamil families but who eloped with Murugasu, a man who "had gained notoriety in his village of Jaffna for beheading the Gods in the household shrine during a quarrel with his father, running away to Mala ...more
Oct 08, 2014 Neha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shyam Selvadurai does for Sri Lanka what Vikram Seth does for India. He weaves in the social, political, cultural and historical events of an era into a family drama and presents to you the story of people and a country. The book entwines many strong plots to make a well-structured and well written story - the marriage and search for suitable grooms, politics of the British on acknowledgement of universal franchise, freedom of Sri Lanka, ending era of rich landlords and emerging labour rights, c ...more
May 09, 2010 Baklavahalva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, so Selvadurai ain't Vikram Seth. And he's hitting you over the head with how Victorian the book he's writing is, even though it's set in 1920's Ceylon. And he's trying very hard to show you he knows and cares about women's, minorities', gay, and labor rights (thankfully, he missed animal rights). And he can't write a sex scene to save his life; "arousal" as a euphemism is no better than "quivering manhood," etc. But for all its frothiness, the book was extremely enjoyable because Selvadurai ...more
Li Sian
Dec 13, 2015 Li Sian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars out of five to CINNAMON GARDENS, which has made a late bid for entry to my Top 5 list of best novels I've read this year. Mmmm I've been rereading it it, because it was just so delightful - to begin with, it addresses themes of race and gender and class and caste and colonialism in 1920s Ceylon, has the best protagonists, one of whom is queer, and has that easy (solemn and solid and lyrical) writing style that was enough to make me like it, but I hit a point halfway through the novel ...more
Aug 08, 2007 Sandhya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all Funny Boy, Selvadurai fans
Ever since I read Selvadurai’s Funny Boy some years ago, I've wanted to lay my hands on his second book, Cinnamon Gardens. However, it was only recently that I got to it and having read it, I’ll say that though it does not wholly match Funny Boy in its thematic significance or innocence, it still makes for easy, enjoyable and elegant reading -- a Selvadurai trademark by the way.

Unlike Funny Boy, where words flow fast and furious into the pages, in Cinnamon Gardens, the language and style appear
Aug 09, 2013 Mchaica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eis aqui uma obra que me encantou e cuja existência, até do autor, era para mim totalmente desconhecida.

De uma sensibilidade marcante, Selvadurai oferece-nos um livro magnífico que nos emociona, que nos envolve numa teia de sentimentos arrebatadores e que, por fim, nos permite ver que a vida nem sempre é o que queremos que seja, ou, se quiserem, que a vida dá voltas e voltas levando-nos por caminhos que nem sempre são aquilo que desejamos.

A escrita de Shyam é poderosa, cativante, poética.

É dos t
Jun 09, 2016 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was so good! Really about two characters, Annalukshmi and Balendran, at different stages of their lives, both learning how to control their own lives, mixed in with a larger conversation about universal franchisement. It was interesting and I was really invested in them both finding a way to be at peace with themselves and their choices.

The other great thing about the novel was the sibling relationships, Annalukshmi and her sisters were really different but also formed a cohesive whole tha
Apr 03, 2008 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cinnamon Gardens is set in 1927 Colombo Sri Lanka in an elite section of the city. The novel traces the lives of two relatives, Annalukshmi and Bala. Annalukshmi is a bookish teacher who is the eldest of three daughters. She is facing pressure to marry but she wishes to remain a teacher. Unfortunately for Annalukshmi, having a career and marriage are mutually exclusive. Bala is the son of a prominent Colombo citizen who is a closet homosexual. When his former lover from London appears in Sri Lan ...more
João Roque
Sep 26, 2015 João Roque rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gays, narrativa
Um autor novo, Shylam Selvadurai, oriundo do actual Sri Lanka, descreve-nos num livro - "Jardins de Canela" - os anos 20 do século passado, no antigo Ceilão, mostrando-nos facetas pouco conhecidas de uma cultura muito rica, numa altura em que se começava a questionar a soberania inglesa na região e também as diferenças religiosas e sociais, quer do Ceilão, quer da India.
Duas histórias paralelas que se vão concentrando numa só, num enredo muito bem construído e de interesse progressivo.
Dec 22, 2008 Shane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great coverage on the history of Sri Lanka leading up to Independence. The vantage point, like in Funny Boy is that of the gay male even though there is a raft of other characters, and while I appreciate that is the authors orientation, I would have prefered a more balanced rendition. Still, its a book I would recommend to anyone wanting to learn about the pre-Independance conflicts of Sri Lanka; there are some clues thrown in that point to the present conflict as well
Aug 22, 2012 Anu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When each chapter begins with a Tirukkural verse, you gotta read the book,right?
Min Yee

The storytelling was good and very realistic. I really can feel the struggles experienced by both characters and you can feel the pain of LGBT people as the author delve into their lives in a more detailed manner. If homosexual people experiencing so much of disapprovals in the modern world, I don’t dare to imagine how devastating their struggles during that time.
Ana Raquel
Apr 24, 2013 Ana Raquel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No início do livro, a leitura processa-se de forma mais lenta, e isto deve-se ao facto de o autor ser demasiado descritivo. Contudo depois de conhecermos as personagens, é difícil de o deixar de ler :)

A ação deste romance desenrola-se nos anos 20 do século XX e como tal espelha temas abordados por outros escritores tais como: Jane Austen, irmãs Brontë e Edward Morgan Forster.

As personagens principais são a Annaluksmi e Balendran. Annaluksmi é uma rapariga que almeja independência de forma, a ded
I'm a big sucker for historical fiction. Call me a nerd, and I will promptly own up to it, I promise. There are often times though when I pick up a book in this genre and it's not only embarrassingly cliche but it's also immaturely predictable. Don't get me wrong, I understand that it's hard to write historical fiction, especially within a setting where actual historical events take place- everyone knows what happens in the end, more or less. But this book was a really nice change. I've never re ...more
Apr 30, 2014 Iceman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eis aqui uma obra que me encantou e cuja existência, até do autor, era para mim totalmente desconhecida.

De uma sensibilidade marcante, Selvadurai oferece-nos um livro magnífico que nos emociona, que nos envolve numa teia de sentimentos arrebatadores e que, por fim, nos permite ver que a vida nem sempre é o que queremos que seja, ou, se quiserem, que a vida dá voltas e voltas levando-nos por caminhos que nem sempre são aquilo que desejamos.

A escrita de Shyam é poderosa, cativante, poética.

É dos t
I found myself unable to distract from Cinnamon Gardens once I started reading it. As I was proceeding page by page, contrary to my beliefs, I had been forced to realize by the book itself that, of all the three novels of Selavadurai including the award winning Funny Boy, Cinnamon Gardens is simply the best. Not only the best of him but it should rather be considered one of the best ever write ups that discusses the old Ceylon under the British influence and the elite society emerged from the ce ...more
I enjoyed this book, particularly the poetic quality of the writer's style. The book is largely about the inability of the two main character's, Annalukshmi and Balendran, to pursue their desires/dreams due to the cultural expectations/restrictions of their time. Annalukshmi because she wants to pursue teaching, and women are not allowed to pursue both a career and be married at the same time. And Balendran is gay, something inconceivable in 1920s Ceylon in uppercaste society where he is expecte ...more
Is this a three or a four star book? That's a ridiculous question - I don't think that much of star ratings, except as a kind of mnemonic device (and not even a particularly good one) - and yet I'm trying to figure out what I think about the book, and I'm sort of torn. Selvadurai's prose doesn't impress me particularly, in fact I don't think very highly of it at all and it was a significant barrier to my appreciation, but I think ultimately Cinnamon Gardens talked me into liking it. Liking the b ...more
May 18, 2016 Malini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am in a situation a lot like Annalukshmi. So, I was immediately attracted to this book.

I guess a lot of things are similar even now, the pressure to get married, to be a "good girl." However, I was surprised to know that it is the same in Sri Lanka, which I thought was a freer society than India. Shyam Selvadurai also talks about the issues of gay people in the subcontinent, which I do not think is any different even today. So yes, it is kind of upsetting to know that we have made little prog
Maria João
Jan 23, 2014 Maria João rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
8,5 de 10*

Muito bom este livro. Retrata uma cultura diferente e distante. Ao ínicio não é fácil de ler, porque os nomes e os locais são estranhos e difíceis de associar aos personagens, mas uma vez compreendido o enredo e as suas ligações, torna-se num romance muito interessante.
A história passa-se em Ceilão, mais propriamente na localidade de Colombo, em Cinnamon Gardens (que dá o título ao livro). Aí acompanhamos a vida de vários ramos da familia: por um lado, temos Balendran, que toda a sua v
Well-written book with strong characters. Two protagonists, both very interesting to read. This was a novel that would have benefited from a family tree. I found it so hard to keep the characters' relationships to each other straight (does not help that it was a family where cousins often married each other). If I put the book down for a day or two, it took me a while to remember who everyone was. A map of the city would have been nice too.

The story builds over time and sets you up for strong r
Oct 20, 2015 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
CINNAMON GARDENS, Shyam Selvadurai. SRI LANKA (Ceylon) 1920s.

Ceylon was a British Crown Colony flourishing economically from the production and international trade of rubber and cinnamon. But support for self-rule and independence was growing among the already fractious Tamils and Sinhalese. Universal suffrage was also an issue but those in favor of limited suffrage offered a less controversial alternative. Coming out as gay, arranged marriages, disobeying parents, marrying below one's caste, a
duck reads
Mar 07, 2014 duck reads rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wc, coc-ic, qc, qw, woc-iw, fiction
Set in 1920s-Ceylon, Cinnamon Gardens' focus is shared between Annalukshmi, a young teacher dealing with pressure from her family to submit to an arranged marriage while trying to figure out what she wants out of life, and her uncle Balendran, who is forced at the age of forty to reevaluate his obedience to his father and his happiness in his quiet, careful, respectable life. A really charming book that eschews convenient endings in favour of realistic characters making the choices they can live ...more
Jul 04, 2016 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was okay. It was like two separate stories, with similar themes of deciding whether they wanted the socially approved marriage and life and figuring out the costs of claiming the lives they wanted, and the two protagonists occasionally saw each other. The writing was stiff, but I liked the way nothing was neatly resolved. Rather, both Annalukshmi and Balendran accepted some uncertainty and complexity in the degrees to which they wanted to rebel against their society or to do what was expected ...more
Aug 06, 2014 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I'm glad I stuck it out for the satisfying mini-triumphs of the main characters, this novel has a slow, awkward start. Not nearly as eloquent as Funny Boy, but very interesting as historical fiction, it follows the lives of a queer man and strong young woman finding their ways in colonized Sri Lanka where class and tradition rule.

Though not one of my favourites, this book will have lasting importance to me in its relevance to injustices that still exist (colonialism, sexism, homophobia, c
Dedrick Burch
Mar 15, 2010 Dedrick Burch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although there is an interesting gay sub-plot, I would not describe this book as a gay book. To me, it was more a story about relationships during the time of great conflict in Sri Lanka. Like his previous novel, Funny Boy, Selvadurai creates some very likeable characters who are struggling with the conflicts created by their homosexual feelings in a society where this is not accepted at all. The other dominate conflict in the book dealt with the violent racism rampant in Sri Lanka at the time. ...more
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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 about Shyam Selvadurai...

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