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Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai Review by: Michael Thorpe World Literature Today, Vol. 70, No. 4, Assia Djebar: 1996 Neustadt International Prize for Literature (Autumn, 1996), p. 1036 Published by: Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40152539 . Accessed: 06/12/2013 06:22
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"who his homeland.139. where she first which he can whollybelong. VancouTwoShores / DeuxRives.is murdered ous relief was felt when his ashes arrivedon the North in Jaffna. Can$14. his darkerdiscoveriescome she startedwriting landed and began to "inhabit winter. sights.occupy an importantcorner in her and the political.1995. MichaelThorpe MountAllison University Sri Lanka ShyamSelvadurai.swoopeddownon TonkinafterV-JDay"todisarmtheJapyou are nothing." her poems in English and then later re-createdthem in through his intense observationof familialconflicts.All comes together. His characterand his comDarylbegins a clandestineaffairwith her.how many people died of starvationin 1945. howJapanesetroopsoccupied the understanding.Insteadof his Aunty'santici.C. mixed ancestry. Beginning with the relativelycomic conflict of Arjie's nativeVietnamto pursueher studiesin France. a Burgher(of Vietnamagainsteach other."funny" Some of her compositionshave appeared (thatis."Reality" may mean "without your family land in the 1940s. her language of education.weeping for loss. nightmares.partly Dutch).intelligent children with precociously willexplore the ironiesof "freedom" in Canada: racism.and the division and finds it rooted in his mother's old attach.to DarylUncle. where he can now rest in peace far from . ference" is as much racial as sexual.As a child.arrangedone. .the Chinese. writes. at McGillUniversity.leading to a separationof circumstance. 921870-35-3.and Arjie.nakedlyrecord. 310 pages. Funny Boy."My The latter voice cried out loudly as if it were the only weapon I had life. but acknowledged rueHer gratitudeis expressed in moving verses to her husBoy fully that.to her setdivisionbetween the boys' and girls'worlds. Although he does manage one defiant she recallstheir childhood.tryside. Boyis a veryaccomplishedfirstnovel.as Selvadurai Like many such novels. fromFunny whatthey shut out.a lesson reinforced in his held power and who didn't" mother and siblingsalso surfacesin stanzaafterstanza.to whom "Pubbut "howthingsreallywere. B.is not. France. hostilitiesconpower. in his poems by the VietnameseCanadianteacherThuong father'sword. in Toronto.emigratesto Canadawith his fam."but ironicallysomething jacket of inheritedprejudice. Apart from some Journal:An Epilogue. and later at the University of Victoria) pressedthe hope that. America. then. singing ed in "Riot French songs in school and at home.colors. maneuveringsto evade harm.flowers .anese"north of the sixteenth parallel.as brutalschool life. as often represented. takingwalksacrossthe coungesturethere. twined. how the Americans. and obviaccomplice. how Nationalist Chinese troops will be a strait.fear inhibitshis mother'sdesirefor investigation Americanshore.NewYork. set in Sri Funny Lankaduringthe few yearsprecedingthe anti-Tamil riots in Colombo.as with his Aunty.which reflectshis councaught through vignettes delightfully delineated with sizes. Returning to Sri Lanka Vuong-Riddick dearlyloves her father and remembers from Australia.ISBN 0himselfdid. nist and narrator. and who while dissentersare intimidated. His favoriteAuntyRadha. and smells from the time she left her try'suglydivision. a Sinhalese.When DarylUncle.Perhaps his next work gave her beautiful.ver. finds she must not love a Sinhalese because Sinhalese and Canada.returningfrom America."Even the "smallchoices" of an earlier chapter. vetoed by her family.95. after the Franco-Vietnamese As familialinsightgrows. Thus her corpus is hear.In bilingual Quebec. in whichArjie.in French open to the readerVuong-Riddick 's life story. ily as politicalrefugees.she obviously enjoysseeing in her dreamsthe are no longer possible.and others have been read in Enwith his first lover.to neither of tlement in Canada. as successivehome gardens in southern Franceand in western Canadalovinglyprovide both colors and fraagainstthose who had destroyedmy life.in SriLanka.Morrow.he stumblesupon his parents' cluded in 1954. or often over. ISBN0-688-14595-7. Ronsdale. FunnyBoyis about growingup into a difficultknowledgeof "thereal world. gay). mustwitnessa loveless.Sinhalesewouldlearn . udice. The love emanating from the author's andjustice.1996 (© 1994). 161 pages.227. 6 Dec 2013 06:22:17 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .who loves the false world of LittleWomen.82 on Fri. his experienceof "dif.as poetic souls. It is otherwisein his family.Thuong Vuong-Riddick. Arjie. in his relationship in Canadianmagazines. most Tamilswho are from Jaffna band.The facing texts in Englishand not prej. a journalist." lish or Perish"was more than the departmentalslogan ry" In a CBC interview (21 January 1996) Selvaduraiex(she taught French at the Universityof Montreal.1036 WORLD LITERATURE TODAY he well knows.a peculiarly white disease.who offered her love and solicitude. Vietnam This content downloaded from 14. murdered her grandfatherin the fifties language riots.Arjie.$23. broken down neatly into three parts:Vietnam.playingcard games in an air-raid shelter. he can hear without being noticed.French. what he used to teach her. for whom money is extorted.Sovietsrespectively helped pit South Vietnamand North ment. how the Vietminh seized pated romanticwedding." While it deTwoShores / Deux Rivesis a bilingual collection of velops throughoutthe boy's realizationthat he is. the two factors are english over Radio Canada."how Vietnamese Arjiemust learn that his life is determinedby whathis elders cannot forget:the narrative balanceshis igfamilies (subdued yet comfortable and proud) fared skillfully norance and naivetewith a slight overlayof retrospective under the Frenchrule. the inexorablefactsprevail. Thereafterthe novel's protago. who sponsored her relativesin their migrationto support the Tamil Tigers. 1983."Indeed it is. the personal street vendors in Hanoi hawkingfresh fruit and flowers. This is Arjie'sharshestlesson in reality .Vuong-Riddick.becomes an involuntary ments on life are mentioned in severalpoems. With candid nostalgia Vuong-Riddickreminisces in verse about life in "FrenchIndochina. in the novel'svoice:recordingnot the "coralpink of memogrances to a strugglingyoung academic.