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Swimming in the Monsoon Sea

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  869 ratings  ·  74 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
Paperback, 274 pages
Published August 14th 2007 by Tundra Books (first published September 13th 2005)
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Daniel Brees there is not much about sexual scenes, this is more about a boy discovering his sexual desires, there is no sexual intercourse

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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  869 ratings  ·  74 reviews

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Aug 23, 2009 rated it liked it
"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 ...more
Feb 17, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this book for the same reason that Shyam Selvadurai seems to have written it. To find a bridge between worlds one is interested in, and relates to.

Selvadurai, who now is a citizen of Canada, and has been residing in Toronto for years, is a Sri Lankan by birth. He was among the thousands of refugees who fled their home country during the Tamil-Sinhalese riots in the 80s. The author’s first book, ‘Funny Boy’ was an exceptional one in many ways. Sparkling with simplicity, the novel
anna (readingpeaches)
buddy read with charlotte for reads rainbow

putting this on hold bc i'm too much of a mood reader aparently ://
Buddy read with Anna for Reads Rainbow

See our reviews on the blog.

Rep: gay mc, Sri Lankan setting and characters

Sometimes you read a book and it just feels quiet and warm like being wrapped up in a blanket with a cup of tea on a cold day (yes, specific metaphor, but bear with). It envelops you in a sense of softness and kindness and you feel almost at ease reading it. That’s probably how I felt reading this book.

Not a lot happens in this book, but in a way, not a lot needs to happen. It’s a
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,
Nov 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  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 ...more
Oct 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, 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.
Jun 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Steve Woods
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay-fiction
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 rated it it was amazing
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!!
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: glbt, young-adult
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.
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
duck reads
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, fiction
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.
Nov 22, 2011 rated it liked it
This book beautifully captured the smells and sights of the pearl of the Indian ocean. Lovely writing! Made me reminisce my homeland.
Kathleen Garber
Sep 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
You can read my review here.
Jul 27, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
Dec 28, 2008 rated it really liked 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.
Jul 30, 2011 added it
This is a wonderful coming of age story
Jul 18, 2017 rated it liked it
This wasn't the world's greatest read, nor its worst, and certainly not the greatest from this author's repertoire. I've run into the same problem I often have with Selvadurai's novels: the protagonist can't keep his damn head on! Now I'm inclined to excuse this one because he's a Teenager(tm) and they're less in control of their Emotions(c) (or so fiction would have you believe...). What I did love about this piece, however, and I find this with all of the author's novels I've read, is that I ...more
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Tasteful. With this being Shyam's first Young Adult novel, I think he touches on some very sensitive but import topics about gender binaries and cultural differences. As a coming to age book that dances around the idea of falling in unrequited love, pulls at your heartstrings. Even though Selvadurai focuses on the character being gay, it is not the only important piece of the book. His sexuality is not defining him, the novel shows as it is in real life, just a one piece of a person. For Amrith, ...more
Blessy Samjose
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-fiction
To begin with, I am enchanted by the story’s Sri Lanka. I can finally see the appeal this magical island holds to holidayers around the world. Also, I hugely appreciate reading young adulthood experiences set in cultural background that is familiar to my own and to recognise some of the code-switching and dialect words. Considering that sexualities outside of heteronormativity is still considered taboo in major parts of southern India, this book does justice to the missing conversation.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, lgbt
I loved the writing style and the setting of this book, and the main character's coming of age was really well done. I thought the fact that he falls in love with his cousin might spoil it for me, but since it stays one-sided and doesn't really get explicit, it was okay and actually fitting to the general atmosphere and conflicts of the novel. Some parts of the characters' backstories were underdeveloped and questionably realistic, but I think this is definitely worth a read.
Idit Bourla
This book is really, really sad. And even though I didn't like much the story, and also had a hard time believing it makes sense them just leaving him to die in the storm (okay), I still could feel his feelings as if were mine. I loved the culturl, I mean I learnt so damn much about Sri Lnaka! So clever novel, so damn miserable, because it's so goddamn real. I mean, that's the definition of real. That's life. I loved it, even though I wanted to cry forever while reading it.
Daniel Brees
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wish I had read this book when I was 16. This is the sotry of Amrith discovering his sexuality, his sexual desires towards his best friend and cousin. His fear of being rejected by his society. The anger inside himself, his shyness, his hours spent at the beach looking at hte horizon in search for answers. Not a poetical masterpiece but a book that I really liked.
This utterly beautiful novel tells us the story of when 14 year old Amrith meets his cousin for the first time. Set in the 1980s during the monsoon season in Sri Lanka, this is a tale about family, friendship, sexuality, identity, loyalty, and first love. Selvadurai captures the atmosphere of a time and place perfectly and writes with heartbreaking honesty.
Leslie Ann
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, young-adult
3.5 stars. A good read that satisfied my reading challenges for both Book Riot (YA novel written by an LGBTQ+ author) and AtW (Sri Lanka). Three stars for the development of the characters (I wish Niresh had been more developed); an extra half star for the tension of the climactic scene.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars. A sweet coming of age novel set in Sri Lanka in 1980. While the story itself breaks no new ground, the author’s vivid descriptions of Sri Lanka brings this remarkable country to life on every page.
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is such a sweet story. It is a coming of age book but it is more.
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it

I’ve been excited to read this one for awhile now. I stumbled across Shyam Selvadurai a couple of years back, when I began my active search for Sri Lankan authors.

Fourteen year-old Amrith is caught between childhood and adulthood. School has let out, and the holidays stretch out ahead of him in a seemingly infinite number of blank days. Amrith fears boredom, which is only kept at bay by his school’s holiday production of Othello.

Amrith, whose parents have both passed away, has effectively been
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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