Funny Boy was relatively low scoring, only 5.4 on average. However, it always happens that the books with the lukewarm ratings actually seem to generate much enthusism in our discussion--and this was no exception. Funny Boy was a combination of many things you wouldn't necessarily expect to find in the same book: Sri Lanka, homosexuality, Canada, civil war, boarding school. But, the weaving together of these elements created a novel that, if not a quick read, certainly was an interesting and informative one. The story of the book's young protagonist, Arjun, was fictional, yet set against a social and political backdrop that was very real: the tensions and bloody violence between Sri Lanka's Buddhist Sinhalese majority and its Hindu Tamil minority. It was a sad and fascinating view into the background of a decades-long civil war that ended just recently with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in 2009, as anyone who listens to NPR on a regular basis heard. It also was almost unimaginable to think of having to go to school in an environment such as Arjun's where the headmaster inflicts corporal punishment and uses the students as pawns in his political agenda. Some in our group also were touched by the author's kind and sympathetic portrayal of how Arjun discovered his sexuality and struggled to deal with it in a country that was not at all tolerant of gay people. The shortcomings of the book were that the writer did not seem to mind dropping threads of the story at a moment's notice (for example, Arjun's mother's childhood lover who was assassinated by the Tamil Tigers, Princess Fatty, and Arjun's family's flight to seek refuge in Canada), which was frustrating. Also, many of the characters, including most members of Arjun's family, were not likeable and were a turn-off to read about. Overall, the main takeaway of this book is that we are so fortunate to live in the time and place that we do. One of the many, many great things about book club (too many to count!) is that every so often we read read a book that reminds us of that.
2009 protest outside 10 Downing Street urging Tony Blair to stop support of the Tamil Tigers.
Tamil Tiger suicide bomber
Our next meeting also is shaping up to have perfect attendance! We are meeting at the Doctor's house on May 11. El Jefe is on dessert and not sure about apps--email if you can pitch in. Until next week... xoej