The Hungry Ghosts Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Apr 2 2013
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“Shyam Selvadurai returns with [a] novel of raw human longing. . . . his stripped-down prose focuses on the deeply personal with precision and insight. . . . All of Selvadurai’s characters are nuanced with motivations that stem not from their political or ethnic roles, but from raw human longing. . . . Selvadurai’s work reminds me that the contemporary novel doesn’t necessarily have to resort to thrills or high jinks in order to find its usefulness. Here, it unforgettably explores the interplay between individual intention and the tragedy of a nation’s history.”
—The Globe and Mail
“This young romance, like something out of an Edmund White novel, is beautifully and powerfully imagined. . . . Calling to mind the work of Indo-American writer Jhumpa Lahiri, Selvadurai does an excellent job contrasting Sri Lanka and Canada.”
—Winnipeg Free Press
“From his debut novel, 1994’s Funny Boy, to his latest, The Hungry Ghosts, [Selvadurai’s] meditated on his birth country’s fraught mélange of history, politics and religion while developing a style that’s anything but bare bones and laconic.”
—The National Post
“Both Shivan’s story and Sri Lanka’s rich history are told through simple yet evocative prose, and Selvadurai’s first-person narrative, with its modernized Dickensian tone, is an effective storytelling device. . . . The Hungry Ghosts is an accomplished, resonant novel. The solid characters and diverse events, the Sri Lankan and Torontonian flavours, and the poetic conclusion will leave readers feeling as though they’ve lived a thousand and one stories, and lacked for little.”
—Quill & Quire
“Moving seamlessly across time and place, the narrative contemplates karma, the belief that past misdeeds can generate spiritual debts that shackle future outcomes. . . . Rendered in visceral detail, locale plays a significant role here: Colombo, Toronto, and Vancouver each possess their own unique temperament. . . . The Hungry Ghosts is lustrous in its depictions of duty, dislocation, and the ways love and relationships haunt the human heart.”
“An epic novel. . . . [that] adds a new maturity of tone, scope, language and character.”
“The Hungry Ghosts [is] a haunting story of longing, family ties and forgiveness. . . . Compelling.”
About the Author
SHYAM SELVADURAI is the acclaimed author of the novels Funny Boy, which was shortlisted for the Giller Prize, won the Books in Canada First Novel Award and was a national bestseller, and Cinnamon Gardens, which was shortlisted for the Trillium Award and sold around the world. He has also written a novel for young adults, Swimming in the Monsoon Sea, which was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Selvadurai now lives in Toronto and Sri Lanka. You can visit him at www.shyamselvadurai.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
Amidst the turmoil of a divided Sri Lanka where the tensions between the Tamils and Sinhalese people are a vivid and violent backdrop to the tensions between Shivan's estranged grandmother and mother and the sides he is forced to choose from in order for his family to survive--Shivan also grows, discovers, and explores his own sexuality as a gay man and battles against the intolerance of his homosexuality by his Sri Lankan culture and community.
Between his grandmother's controlling dominance and astute ambition for power and money; his mother's depression and devastation at the failure of a western country, Canada, whose expectations she held towards were far too high in estimation compared to her real immigrant experience; and his sister's radical extremism in feminist theory and racial equality--Shivan is often a victim of emotional liminality and displacement, marginalized in his culture and experience not only by being both Tamil and Sinhalese, but more importantly a Sri Lankan-born boy who immigrates to Toronto, Canada as a refugee and eventually becomes a westernized Torontonian and later, a Vancouver resident, open and active in the LGBT community.
The richness in this novel is found in the author's ability to write with an eloquence and ease that give his characters resounding depth, authenticity, and a vulnerability, which readers can eagerly connect to and appreciate.Read more ›
I had to read this book for a class, and to sum it up in one word: terrible! First, much of this book simply drags on with his everyday life, jumping around different time periods confusing the reader while going into far much detail setting up backstories. The only part of the book that was really engaging was near the end of Part Three (which is why I am giving it two stars instead of one), but the climatic writing here quickly falls back into a bore for the final quarter.
I could overlook all this if the conclusion ties everything up nicely, but it does not. Instead of realizing his deceased lover would want him to be happy or having him or his family seek therapy to deal with their conflicts, he decides to let his unhappiness control him. That is what I grinded through over 300 pages for?!
Most recent customer reviews
Canada loves its multicultural authors and lavishes praise and prestigious awards on writers such as Shyam Selvadurai. When I read The Hungry Ghosts, I had to wonder why. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
A brilliant, heartfelt read by a brilliant, daring author. Passion and sincerity of heart in the characters - we are exposed to the good, the bad and the ugly in all of us through... Read morePublished on Feb. 1 2014 by Gillian Cornwall