The Hungry Ghosts

The Hungry Ghosts

Shyam Selvadurai

Language: English

Pages: 301

ISBN: 0670085758

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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.

Tout homme rêve d'être un gangster

LectureS (Autoportrait X)

Lost in the Barrens













sleep?” my mother cried. “Do you want a coffee? Some cereal? Can I make you bacon and eggs?” She was frightened to be left alone with me, frightened she would fail me if I broke down. We had become that estranged over the years. “No, no, Amma,” I smiled to reassure her. “I can manage.” Once I had eaten my breakfast, taken a shower and changed, I sat in a tub chair not knowing what to do with myself. Finally, I went upstairs again. My mother was rushing about the kitchen, checking pots, chopping

understand about Sri Lanka, it’s recent history. The horror of it.” Then I told Michael about the 1983 riots, brushing over my family’s personal experience by saying, “We were lucky because Sinhala friends hid us.” I described instead, to an aghast Michael, what had happened to Tamil people, my voice ringing with the real anger I felt towards my country and all that had occurred to me there, but also hoping that the tide of my angry words would carry me to a place where I was able to tell the

and knees. When I was sure my grandmother was asleep, I crept to the window and looked out through its thick bars. Renu was playing batta. She stopped, her feet planted on two squares, the batta stone in her hand, then continued with the game as if she had not seen me. Two days later, my mother came home with a box from Perera and Sons. She gathered us together around the back verandah table, and once Rosalind had brought cake plates and a knife, she announced she had been offered a job as an

losing-losing money?” She turned to me. “I have been more generous with that Siriyawathy than the elephant Paraliya was with our Lord Buddha.” “But give her a little time more, Daya. After all, she has been your tenant for years now, and the rent is only in arrears because of the husband’s death, nah? I have talked to Siriyawathy, and she tells me her brother is coming from the village with a cousin to stay. They will help her meet the rent when they get jobs. She might even take in a university

heard him pull up outside our house and ring the gate bell. I rushed out of my bedroom and overtook Rosalind, who was making her way across the saleya. “It’s for me,” I cried, waving her away. When I was on the verandah, I gathered myself together, then sauntered down to the gate. Mili was seated astride the motorcycle, his grin curiously rueful. The sight of him, so handsome, his eyes crinkled against the glare, caused something to loosen in me, a slipping into pleasure. “You look like you’ve

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