Catalogue


The hungry ghosts /
Shyam Selvadurai.
imprint
Toronto : Doubleday Canada, c2013.
description
372 p. ; 25 cm
ISBN
9780385670661
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Toronto : Doubleday Canada, c2013.
isbn
9780385670661
catalogue key
8702828
 
Issued also in electronic format.
Purchase; DSO; 2013; RB309720.
A Look Inside
Reviews
Review Quotes
"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 "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 " The Hungry Ghosts [is] a haunting story of longing, family ties and forgiveness. . . . Compelling." - Times Colonist
This item was reviewed in:
Globe & Mail, April 2013
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Summaries
Main Description
In Buddhist myth, the dead may be reborn as "hungry ghosts"-spirits with stomach so large they can never be full-if they have desired too much during their lives. It is the duty of the living relatives to free those doomed to this fate by doing kind deeds and creating good karma. In Shyam Selvadurai's sweeping new novel, his first in more than a decade, he creates an unforgettable ghost, a powerful Sri Lankan matriarch whose wily ways, insatiable longing for land, houses, money and control, and tragic blindness to the human needs of those around her parallels the volatile political situation of her war-torn country. The novel centres around Shivan Rassiah, the beloved grandson, who is of mixed Tamil and Sinhalese lineage, and who also-to his grandmother's dismay-grows from beautiful boy to striking gay man. As the novel opens in the present day, Shivan, now living in Canada, is preparing to travel back to Colombo, Sri Lanka, to rescue his elderly and ailing grandmother, to remove her from the home-now fallen into disrepair-that is her pride, and bring her to Toronto to live our her final days. But throughout the night and into the early morning hours of his departure, Shivan grapples with his own insatiable hunger and is haunted by unrelenting ghosts of his own creation. The Hungry Ghosts is a beautifully written, dazzling story of family, wealth and the long reach of the past. It shows how racial, political and sexual differences can tear apart both a country and the human heart-not just once, but many times, until the ghosts are fed and freed.
Main Description
The long-awaited new novel by the award-winning, bestselling author of Funny Boy and Cinnamon Gardens shows us a dazzling and fully mature writer at the height of his powers. In Sri Lankan myth, a person who dies may be reborn a "hungry ghost"--a ghost with a large stomach that can never be filled through its tiny mouth--if he has desired too much during his life. It is the duty of the living to free the dead who are doomed to this fate by transferring karma from their own good deeds. In Shyam Selvadurai's masterful new novel, Shivan, a troubled young man of mixed Tamil and Sinhalese ancestry, is preparing to travel from Toronto, Canada, to the land of his childhood, Sri Lanka, to rescue his ailing grandmother and bring her back to die. But on the eve of his departure--as Shivan meditates on his turbulent past, recalls his gradual discovery of his homosexuality, and wrestles with his complicated relationship with the wily old woman--he discovers just how much his own heart's desires are entwined with the volatile political, racial, and sexual mix of Sri Lanka's past and present. In the end, Shivan must decide: will he rescue his grandmother, or join her? The Hungry Ghosts is an unconventional exploration of the immigrant experience; a tale of family ties and the long reach of the past; and a heartwrenching look at how racial, political, and sexual differences can tear apart a country, a family, and a human being.
Main Description
In Sri Lankan myth, a person who dies may be reborn a "hungry ghost"--a ghost with a large stomach that can never be filled through its tiny mouth--if they have desired too much during their life. It is the duty of the living to free the dead who are doomed to this fate by transferring karma from their own good deeds. In Shyam Selvadurai's masterful new novel, Shivan, a troubled young man of mixed Tamil and Sinhalese ancestry, is preparing to travel from Toronto, Canada to the land of his childhood, Sri Lanka, to rescue his ailing grandmother and bring her back to die. But on the eve of his departure, as Shivan meditates on his turbulent past, recalls his gradual discovery of his homosexuality, and wrestles with his complicated relationship with the wily old woman, he discovers just how much his own heart's desires are entwined with the volatile political, racial and sexual mix of Sri Lanka's past and present. In the end, Shivan must decide: will he rescue his grandmother, or join her? The Hungry Ghosts is an unconventional exploration of the immigrant experience; a tale of family ties and the long reach of the past; and a heartwrenching look at how racial, political, and sexual differences can tear apart a country, a family, and a human being.

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