The Funny Boy is a classic novel written by Shyam Selvadurai. Born in 1965, Shyam Selvadurai was a great Colombian novelist. Selvadurai was gay and open about it, something that the residents of Sri Lanka were inclined to. Raised in a middle-class family punctuated with a lot of hardships growing up, Selvadurai never got a chance to exploit his potential fully. At the tender age of nineteen years, he had to relocate to Canada with his family to avoid the chaos that erupted at his hometown after the 1983 ethnic riots. It is in Canada that he studied creative writing and acquainted himself with theater and fine arts. He graduated from New York University with a Bachelors of Fine Arts. Currently, he resides in Toronto. Funny Boy was Selvadurais first novel, and it scaled him to great heights in his writing career. Published in the year 1994, the novel won him the first ever Canadian Best Novel Award in the U.S. Funny Boy was the book that brought Selvadurai to the limelight. Below is a literary analysis of Funny Boy.
The dominant theme in this novel is sexuality. Funny Boy is a gay adult novel that exploits the early years of Selvadurai. The book is based on his early life especially the exact point in time he discovered his sexuality. The setting of the novel is in Sri Lanka which is relevant and symbolic because this is where the Selvadurai was born and raised. The main character of Funny Boy us Arje who represents Selvadurai. At the beginning of the novel, Arije is only seven years old. At this young age, Arije started discovering things about himself that appeared odd and unexplainable. For instance, Arije prefers the company of female cousins to male ones and as a result, spends a little too much time with them. Arije also realizes that unlike his peers who enjoyed playing with toy cars and other games that are considered to be boy-like, he was the complete opposite. He enjoyed putting on makeup and dressing like a little girl. Consequentially, this attracted negative comments from friends and relatives, something that deeply embarrassed Arijes parents. People would make fun of him from time to time and labeled him funny, hence the name of the novel.
With the indifference that grew from Arijes personality, his parents insisted that he could no longer hang out with girls as a corrective measure. Their greatest fear was that their son would turn out to be gay and were afraid more than anything the shame affiliated with this. However, little did the parents know that being gay is not something that can be changed, it is more of a personality than a lifestyle and the more they tried to turn him the more it drove him into it. The funny thing is that Arijes parents never talked about it in the open, all they did was throw subtle hints here and there. For instance, they started by limiting Arijes freedom and monitoring the kind of company he kept. At the age of 13 when adolescence kicked in, Arije started being sexually attracted to other boys.
The father did not take this lightly and decided that it was time to take the next step which was sending him to Victoria Academy. This move was meant to man him up and correct his sexuality which needless to say, backfired for the worse. The theme of racism is also evident at the Victoria school where Arije is discriminated against and bullied because of his ethnicity. On his defense is a boy called Soyza who is also gay and protects Arije from the bullies. It is not long before the two start getting involved romantically and develop feelings for each other. At this point, Arije is no longer afraid of his sexuality and in fact, wonders why people look down on gays.
The novel Funny Boy was written about three decades ago, yet it is still relevant in the contemporary world. In as much as people are quick to proclaim that they live in a free world, they remain intolerant to the issue of sexuality. Many people see it as a practice that should be changed and try to avoid gays at all costs. Parents are the most embarrassed when their children turn out to be gay. Some go to the extent of disowning their children upon realizing their sexuality. Although religion does not support same-sex marriage and relationships, every person has a right to choose their partner without being treated indifferently. Gone are the days when people were so strict on personal issues revolving around sexuality. For instance, in the good book, Jesus defended an adulterous woman from being stoned by an angry mob; saying whoever was without sin to cast the first stone. Every person under the sky is a sinner and the fact that people sin differently should not be a basis of self-righteousness.
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