27 July, 2021

Fables For The Ghosts

A stricken identity, the pains of gay love, an unhappy escape, a bleeding homeland: an insightful novel

Fables For The Ghosts

The one problem with this well-written and well-structured book is that the main characters, save one, are not very likeable. It is a harsh novel, and the people are real people, and a good novelist—as Selvadurai is—has the knack of bringing you into sympathy with his mind-born creations in far fewer than 371 pages; and yet for me, at least, there is a spark missing. It would be different had I been gay. Most of my gay friends, too, have had harsh lives in one way or another, and bear the scars.

The Hungry Ghosts is an NRI story, except that the protagonist is Sri Lankan. Shivan Rassiah had a Tamil father, dead before the tale begins. This makes him—and his mother and sister—particularly unfortunate victims of the Lankan ‘troubles’, because they owe no real allegiance to either side. This is especially so when the Sinhala side is represented by his mother’s mother, an unpleasant matriarch. The family’s escape to Canada taints everyone involved.

The grandmother, Daya Ariyasinghe, is one of the two characters...

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