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Funny Boy

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  4,217 ratings  ·  353 reviews
In the world of his large family, affluent Tamils living in Colombo, Arjie is an oddity, a 'funny boy' who prefers dressing as a girl to playing cricket with his brother.

In FUNNY BOY we follow the life of the family through Arjie's eyes, as he comes to terms both with his own homosexuality and with the racism of the society in which he lives. In the north of Sri Lanka the
Paperback, 320 pages
Published 1997 by Harvest (first published 1994)
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Yvonne Blackwood I don't regard the narration as overly unrealistic; as one other reader states, the mother used him for cover. What I found a tad out of place was…moreI don't regard the narration as overly unrealistic; as one other reader states, the mother used him for cover. What I found a tad out of place was that he was always able to eavesdrop without being caught whenever something juicy was occurring!(less)

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3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,217 ratings  ·  353 reviews

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Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
This is a book about a gay Sri Lankan boy. He falls in love and realises his sexuality.

I wonder how many people stopped reading my review after that first line. I can’t judge, this is a book I would never have picked up and read by my own choice. It’s was on one of my university modules, so there was no escaping it for me. Surprisingly, I actually quite enjoyed reading it as I have done with all postcolonial texts I’ve come across.

Gender is socially constructed and socially enforced; it’s also
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Funny Boy is a moving account of a young boy coming to terms with his being 'funny'– slowly recognizing that he is different- that he loves men, that he is gay. Even though the story is set in Sri Lanka, the funny boy's experiences resonate with any young gay boy who grew up elsewhere in the Indian Subcontinent. Of course, there are moments in this boy's story that most gay men will recognize as there own, no matter where they come from.

I give this book such a high rating because it is a well-wr
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
Maybe a 3.5/5? I can't decide
Megan Baxter
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I believe I read Selvadurai's second book first, and am now reading his first book second. Not that they need to be read in any order, but I'm wondering about his progression as an author. Also, is there a third? Because I liked Funny Boy more than Cinnamon Gardens. And looking it up, looks like yes, there are more of his books to explore.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the m
Jul 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Personal, heart-felt and deeply emotional, Funny Boy is an outright masterpiece. The best thing about the novel is its simple, innocent and poignant of the most passionate and intense books I've ever read.
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am so glad that I got a chance to read this book. This novel was chosen by my teacher for us to read for an assignment. I should be working on the assignment right now, but it's been awhile since I wrote a book review. I loved this book so much and I am relieved to have read another book. I'm in a huge reading slump and this book might've gotten me out of it. I learned so many things and it was easy to relate to.

"Yet those Sundays, when I was seven, marked the beginning of my exile from the
Daniel Afloarei
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
O carte ce prezinta homosexualitatea dintr-o perspectiva asiatica. Mi-a placut contradictia dintre distinul personal si destinul colectiv.

Restul il gasiti aici:
Sep 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to understand the softer side of the problems in Sri Lanka
I love this book! It reminded me of little things from my childhood in Colombo…things I am slowing forgetting as I get older. Things like calling a wardrobe an almariah, like going to school in a uniform and coming home for lunch, like all the silly nicknames kids gifted - or maybe cursed - each other with, (ie: Diggy nose and Her Fatness) and even the make-believe games we used to play since we didn’t have all the entertaining toys that kids nowadays have. I also admire how the author is able t ...more
May 31, 2017 added it
"The difference within me that I sometimes felt I had, that had brought me so much confusion, whatever this difference, it was shared by Shehan. I felt amazed that a normal thing - like my friendship with Shehan - could have such powerful and hidden possibilities."

"Right and wrong, fair and unfair had nothing to do with how things really were. I thought of Shehan and myself. What had happened between us in the garage was not wrong. For how could loving Shehan be bad? [...] It had to do with who
Jul 11, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canada
There's no accounting for taste. This book was pressed on me with the highest praise, and a lot of reviews here mention the exquisite writing. But what is exquisite about this? The narrator, Arjie has been informed that he is to go to the Academy where his older brother is already a student. His own displeasure at the idea turns to dread when his brother gives him a friendly warning not to provoke the head teacher by doing anything sinful like blinking or licking his lips in his presence. "The r ...more
Ravi Gangwani
It was the story of small boy in Sri Lanka, who lives in family of mother, father, siblings and surrounded by his extended family and how his life changes as per political scenario of the country. How they forced to leave the country and go to Canada. Here is the pattern in which this book goes :

First 1/6th of book was - childhood time games of 7 year kid.
Second 1/6th of the book was - Life of an Tamil aunt who falls in love with a Sinhalese man.
Third 1/6th of the book - Death of the mother's fo
Renita D'Silva
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful and heartbreaking. Loved this book.
Sep 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: school
This book sets up an interesting series of observed relationships that culminate first in Arjie's sexual awakening and then his political (or apolitical) awakening around the time of the civil war in Sri Lanka. The stories of the forbidden love and the politically-troubled relationships he observes as a child bear closely on the choices he makes in his relationship with Shehan. He sees his family constantly pushing against the social expectations of a Tamil family and is brought into danger by t ...more
Dusty Myers
The only thing this collection of stories (billed as a novel, but no way) adds to the coming-out genre is its setting: the Sri Lankan Civil War. This is probably enough. Probably, we should have variants of the coming-out novel in every possible culture of the world. But for someone who's about waist-deep in coming out novels these days, Funny Boy has so little to offer.

And the writing, despite claims from the blurbs in the back, is not exquisite; is, in fact, never very creative or beautiful. "
May 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: asian-lit, lgbtqa
A very interesting read.
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What comes across as a normal depiction of Tamil life injected with the humour of a boy who enjoys dressing up with his cousin sisters quickly turns into a haunting escalation of Sinhalese-Tamil violence wrapped around Arjie's growing awareness of his homosexuality. Regarding him and his country Sri Lanka, the very concept of 'normal' is questioned and how they have changed forever is explored.
A great read that starts funny and ends ominously. As Arjie grew, his innocence is overshadowed by his
Moshe Mikanovsky
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was registered to take a Creative Writing class at the University of Toronto with Shyam Selvadurai as the instructor, so I found it interesting to read his book before the class started. Unfortunately, that class was canceled (now I am taking it with another teacher), but I still enjoyed reading the book. I debated a bit between 3 to 4 stars. Somewhere in the middle of the book, the writing becomes a bit tedious, with the narrator (a 12 y/o at that point of the book) happen to always be taken ...more
May 23, 2010 rated it liked it
I actually glanced at the beginning of this book and thought, "Oh, god, another coming out story, nicely written, but nothing very profound or very different and put it aside. Then I saw the reviews of the book on this website and became more interested in the political aspects of the novel that I hadn't known about and I'm going to give it a second chance. Let's see what happens.

Well, I should have trusted my first impression. Although the political background of the novel added some dimension,
Ariel Uppstrom
Sep 09, 2010 rated it liked it
This was an interesting book. It was really cool to learn about Sri Lanka and the culture and lifestyles of the people. I also am always drawn to stories of gay young people in foreign countries who experience a different understanding of their sexuality.

I didn't like how most of the story was about other people, not the main character and his situations. Only 2 parts were really focused on his life and problems while the rest was about other people in his family or friends. It just didn't seem
Jan 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009, fiction
When adults say Arjie is "funny", he knows they don't mean it in any way he's familiar with the word. It's not until he's fourteen and falling in love with his best friend that he realizes what they meant and why he's always felt different. Set in Sri Lanka during the '70s and '80s, the book also deals with the racial tensions at the time, as Arjie becomes more and more aware of the growing conflict the older he gets.[return][return]This is not a young adult book, but rather a book about childre ...more
Travis Gomez
Jun 11, 2018 rated it liked it
The debut novel by Srilankan/ Canadian author Shyam Selvadurai is a coming of age novel of Arjie; a Tamil boy from a well off Colombo family set in Sri Lanka in the 70s -80s amidst the growing ethnic tensions. The Novel is written from the first person perspective and is in the form of six short stories set at different points in Arjie's life and at different moments in Sri Lanka's history.

Overview of the Novel
Each short story seems to offer a commentary on a different aspect of Sri Lankan cultu
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is six linked short stories set in Sri Lanka. It is mainly about the build up to the civil war and conflict between Tamil and Sinhalese people there in Sri Lanka. The stories being told from the point of view of a Tamil boy named Arjuna who is also queer. It is both coming of age and building of tension between Tamil and Sinhalese. The final chapter is tragic and terrifying.

There are two things that I did not feel comfortable about when I was reading it.

1. It maybe that the characters
Karthik Ramakrishnan
This book is a clear reflection of the confused thoughts that the protagonist Arjun hosts. It starts with the time when he visits his grandparents' home every Sunday, when he is comfortable with how his life is, happy with how things are panning out. That is when change creeps in uninvited and unannounced.

In almost every section of the book- there are six- the introduction of a character or a few changes his life. The backdrop for all these events is the perpetually present communal tension, whi
I absolutely loved Shyam Selvadurai’s debut novel Funny Boy. If was filled with lush prose, great characters and lots of insight into human emotions and relationships. I also learned much more than I knew about Sri Lanka, officially the Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) and the ongoing conflict between the Tamils and Sinhalese happening there.

I mostly loved this book however because it spoke to my heart and moved me deeply. Funny Boy is a very touching coming of age s
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Each chapter f this book reads like a separate short story. The stories deal with both with the main character growing up in Sri Lanka and discovering his own sexuality, amidst the racial tension of the conflicts between the Singhalese and the Tamils. Throughout it all there is a common thread, that the difference between right and wrong, is not always obvious.

The chapters evolve as Anjie grows up and discovers that life is a lot more complicated than how his childhood lens viewed the world.

Mar 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Touching stuff. I was quite young when i read this and it sort of provided me with my first real insight into the ethnic conflict leading up to the years of 1983. Also provoked a fair bit of anger against the government as well. Great activism and an even better novel. The story is woven around a young boy just entering puberty who finds that he has homosexual tendencies. He is a Tamil from a well to do Colombo family, but the exacerbating Sinhalese - Tamil racial violence soon drives his idylli ...more
Jun 05, 2007 rated it did not like it
Absolutelty worthless. It's the gay, Indian, boring Portrait of the Artist. But if Joyce was gay, Indian, and boring, he wouldn't have wasted his time telling this story. He would have been too busy sleeping with Proust.
Brandon Shire
May 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ananya Ghosh
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, good
This was a very beautiful read. This was my first ever read of a Sri Lankan author and all I knew about the country, despite it being one of my neighbouring ones, came out of a particular movie and just bits and pieces of news. I loved comparing our cultures and finding similarities and dissimilarities through the text.

The story follows a middle aged boy who grapples through so many things at once, from exploring his sexuality, to communal hostility, political unrest and finally a communal riot
Serena.. Sery-ously?

Sono totalmente ignorante riguardo la storia dello Sri Lanka e a tratti avrei voluto che fosse più approfondita.. Però devo dire che come punto di partenza è perfetto, mi ha messo abbastanza curiosità da indagare e approfondire!
Il libro si divora in un attimo e tiene buona compagnia ma mi ha dato l'impressione di essere costituito da diverse storie slegate tra loro il cui unico filo conduttore fosse il protagonista narrante: ogni capitolo narra di un episodio in cui viene mescolata anche la
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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
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