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Selvadurai, Shyam (b. 1965)  
page: 1  2  

Swimming in the Monsoon Sea was a finalist for Canada's most prestigious literary award, the Governor General's Awards, in the category of children's literature. It was honored with a Lambda Literary Award in the same category.

Selvadurai has also edited a collection of short stories: Story-Wallah: Short Fiction from South Asian Writers (2004), which includes works by Salman Rushdie, Monica Ali, and Hanif Kureishi, among others. He is represented in the anthology by "Pigs Can't Fly," the first of the six "stories" that comprise Funny Boy.

Selvadurai's works are informed by meticulous research and a haunting evocation of Sri Lanka, which remains vital in his imagination despite his having lived in Canada for so many years. He clearly has a deep engagement with his country of birth and its troubled history, but he is also aware of how impossible it would be for him to live there.

While Sri Lanka's ethnic clashes may have led to Selvadurai's family's emigration, the country's attitudes, as expressed in anti-homosexual laws, have intensified his embrace of his country of adoption.

In his essay "Coming Out" in Time Asia's special issue on the Asian diaspora in 2003, Selvadurai provides a powerful account of the discomfort he and his partner, Andrew Chapman, experienced during a period spent in Sri Lanka in 1997. Selvadurai notes that "in this country that I still considered my home, I could never be at home." In contrast, he revels in the comfort of feeling at ease in the home he shares with Chapman in Toronto.

Selvadurai takes seriously both the effect his books may have on other young gay Sri Lankans and his position as a role model for other gay Asians in North America. In explaining his decision to be openly gay, he remarked, "I remembered how it was for me feeling there was no one out there who was a role model of any sort. When I decided to be out in public, I was really thinking of that version of me in Sri Lanka who would read my book and feel relieved to not be alone. If I decided not to be out, I would be sending a message to that young person that I was still afraid and ashamed."

Deborah Hunn

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Cat's Eye. "Subverting Cinnamon Gardens." Sri Lankan Island (March 3, 1999):

Prakrti. "'The Breach': Three Sri Lankan-Born Writers at the Crossroads." Outlook (Colombo) (June 4, 1997):

Selvadurai, Shayam. "Coming Out." Time Asia (August 18-25, 2003):

_____. Shayam Selvadurai's Personal Website:


    Citation Information
    Author: Hunn, Deborah  
    Entry Title: Selvadurai, Shyam  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2006  
    Date Last Updated October 16, 2007  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2006 glbtq, Inc.  


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