The Amnesty International Book Club is pleased to announce our July/August title Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai. This title has been recommended by guest reader Christopher DiRaddo, with whom you will explore the novel and read beyond the book to learn more about LGBTI issues that Amnesty works hard to bring to light.
Set in the mannered, lush world of upper middle class Tamils in Sri Lanka, Funny Boy, though not autobiographical, draws on Selvadurai’s experience of being gay in Sri Lanka and growing up during the escalating violence between the Buddhist Sinhala majority and Hindu Tamil minority in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Arjie Chelvaratnam, at the age of 7, prefers dressing up in a sari and playing bride-bride with his girl cousins to cricket. When he is discovered by the adults engaging in this innocent fun, he is forced out of the world of the girls. A lonely outsider, he attaches himself to various sympathetic adults, whose own trajectories and dilemmas reveal to Arjie the difficulties of following one’s desires. As the novel progresses, the civil violence and tensions mount bringing devastating consequences to Arjie’s family and their sheltered world.