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am 25. April 2000
Advertised as a book abour growing up gay in South Asia, Funny Boy actually says very little about being gay. There are hints in the early chapters as family members use the term "funny." Most of the book centers around family members, mainly the women, who experience the burdens of living in a society that does not yet respect a woman's development. Sri Lanka is also a society in which the Sinhalese majority terrifies the Tamil minority. It is against that background this story is played.
But the novel is not so much a development of plot as it is episodes or short stories about family members. Unfortunately each of these epidoes ends in sadness or tragedy, the ultimate ending being that of the displacement of the family to Canada after a brutal riot has destroyed the family's homes and killed the grandparents.
Selvadurai's portray of Arjie's awareness of being gay is sensitive and torturous. But it seems quite western. One wonders of that is the impact of British culture on this society.
It was a good book to read, but the episodic nature of it got boring.
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am 7. Dezember 1999
Life as seen through a young boy's eyes, Funny Boy, is narrated with an honesty that brings laughs and alternatively, immense sadness. Arjie, the protagonist in the story, captures the dilemma of growing up, and the struggle at times, to make meaning of the apparent contradictions in life as he comes to terms with understanding the issues of ethnic and sexual identity. Through him we re-discover our own journey through the vicissitudes of life and empathize with the innocence that once surrounded us all before accepting the harsh realities and cruelties of life. Shyam Selvadurai weaves his story through a backdrop of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka and a colorful range of characters - the gossipy aunts, the pecking order of cousins, the kindly grand-parents, the strict school principal, and the faceless mob - all of who evoke a range of emotions -smiles, annoyance, warmth and fear - as we nostalgically reminisce about these characters and situations from our own childhood. This is a well written and poignant book. I can't wait to get hold of the author's other book (Cinnamon Gardens).
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am 6. Dezember 1999
Life as seen through a young boy's eyes, Funny Boy, is narrated with an honesty that brings laughs and alternatively, immense sadness. Arjie, the protagonist in the story, captures the dilemma of growing up, and the struggle at times, to make meaning of the apparent contradictions in life as he comes to terms with understanding the issues of ethnic and sexual identity. Through him we re-discover our own journey through the vicissitudes of life and empathize with the innocence that once surrounded us all before accepting the harsh realities and cruelties of life. Shyam Selvadurai weaves his story through a backdrop of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka and a colorful range of characters - the gossipy aunts, the pecking order of cousins, the kindly grand-parents, the strict school principal, and the faceless mob - all of who evoke a range of emotions -smiles, annoyance, warmth and fear - as we nostalgically reminisce about these characters and situations from our own childhood. This is a well written and poignant book. I can't wait to get hold of the author's other book (Cinnamon Gardens).
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am 4. Oktober 1999
I read this book in one sitting, I just could not put it down. Funny Boy is one of the most wonderful books that I've ever read. The parallells between the raging war and homophobia were truly moving. To be honest, several times I had to put the book down because I began to weep. It is truly that moving. Please read it!!
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am 7. Juni 1999
Shyam Selvadurai's Funny Boy is a very well-written, entertaining novel that takes us through the journey of a confused, young boy, Arjie. Growing up in any society can be one of the toughest challenges for any child. Learning about who you are and where you belong in the world are lessons that may take a lifetime to resolve. As Arjie grows up in Sri Lanka, he learns of what the world has to offer for him. He discovers what it is that makes him happy and what things make him feel unhappy. Selvadurai introduces the reader to numerous fascinating characters who help shape Arjie's identity. These include Her Fatness, Radha Aunty, Black Tie and Shehan to name a few. Arjie's dissatisfaction with masculinity makes him learn of his own sexuality. Funny Boy isn't really about being gay, or becoming gay, it is more about growth and the struggles children go through to come full circle with their own identity.
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am 5. November 1999
I was lent this book from a friend and had no expectations. Wow. I couldn't put it down and have since purchased (but not yet read) Cinnamon Gardens. This book captures the experience of growing up gay and adds in the ethnic/historical horrors of a country at war with itself.
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am 8. Juni 1999
Funny Boy, a first novel by a young Sri Lankan writer, Shyham Selvadurai, is remarkble stories that takes place in Sri Lanka. It depicts a passionate commitment to peace of Sri Lankan people in the 1980's riots while they are trapped in the walls of ethnic struggle, political problems, and family tradition for a long time. Basically, the stories display that the characters have no free will because they can not get married with the different ethnicity person. Radha,a secondary character in the novel, a Tamil girl, has a strong desire to be in love with Anil, a Sinhalese boy, but they can not fly out of the rope of family tradition and ethnic struggle. At the end, her family is forced to immigrate to Canada to avoid the punishment of ethnicity difference. The novel fascinates the readers that why can people judge their happiness on the others'pain?
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am 2. Dezember 1999
The most striking thing about this book is how the author could bring out Arjie's childhood experiences in such a charming and interesting manner.I finished the book in a few hours because I just could not lay it down once I started reading it.I loved it.
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am 6. März 2000
This novel, very much like Roy's "The God of Small Things," looks at life in South Asia and it political climate through a child's eyes. And like "The God of Small Things," this is a wonderful debut for Selvadurai.
As a gay man of Indian origin, I found myself relating completely to the main character, Arjie. Selvadurai's prose is poetic and precisely conveys the awkardness and roller-coaster nature of a gay child growing up in a tradition-based family. Add to the mix the portrayal of Sri Lanka's devastating political turmoil, and you get a history lesson and a coming-of-age story at the same time.
Although some of the plot seems incredible and out of place, "Funny Boy" is a quick, delightful read.
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am 16. Juni 1997
Shyam Selvadurai's excellent writing vividly conveys what it's like for
Arjie to grow up with a different sensibility from others in his Sri
Lankan extended family. Arjie's developing feelings for Shehan are
immediately familiar to gay readers.
Many stories about growing up gay
have unreal endings in which everything works out wonderfully.
Unfortunately, the background of this story
includes the unrest, ethnic violence, and terrorism of the
conflict between between Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka, and that conflict is not easily wished away. The story ends in tragedy, and
at a significant turning point. I'm left wanting to read more of
Arjie's story. What happens next? I can't wait for the next book
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