Let's Go Swimming in the Monsoon Sea with Shyam Selvadurai...

It's Sri Lanka, 1980, and the season of monsoons. Fourteen year old Amrith lives with kind uncle Lucky and aunty Bundle along with their two daughters Selvi and Mala after his parent's death. Amrith’s school holiday plans seem unpromising: he has to appear in his school’s production of Othello and he is learning to type at Uncle Lucky’s tropical fish business. Then, like an unexpected monsoon, his cousin brother arrives from Canada and he finds himself falling in love with the Canadian boy. Othello, with its powerful theme of disastrous jealousy, is the backdrop to the drama in which Amrith finds himself immersed.

Shyam Selvadurai’s first young adult novel which even was Nominated for the Governor General's Literary Awards 2005, (Children's Literature, Text), he explores first love with purity, humor,and compassion. This novel reminds the reader about Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family; both highlights the struggles of children with their families. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea is the kind of compound novel best appreciated by adults and older teenagers who have moved to a more wistful approach to literature. Even though it has categorized as a gay love story, there's no implied sex, no reciprocation of feelings. Instead, it's a story of young love and loss. Feelings of a young boy who has just stepped into his teen age.

I really don't think of it as a "young adults" book. It is a book for everyone. It's a lovely piece of writing, about a young boy's feelings, teenage love and mixture of various emotions. It is intended for teenagers, but can be enjoyed by older people as well. It will take you back to your teen-age in your life.

Post Script -
This book was translated to Sinhala by Mr. J.P. Wanniarachchi with the title "මෝසම් මුහුදේ පිහිනීම" in 2008 under the label of Sarasavi Publishers.
ISBN 978-955-573-686-2
Price : Rs. 490.00

3 ප්‍රතිචාර:

ත‍රිඳු said...

Does the fact of main character of a novel being gay make the whole novel a gay one ? not as far as I think. Of all 3 books of Syam I ve read, I consider only “Cinnamon Garden” to be a true gay novel and to a certain extend may be funny boy too. And to think that swimming in the monsoon see talks about love ? There is a big difference between a teenage crush and love. The boy I want to shag doesn’t mean the boy I love. This book does not at all talks about love. Having said all that, it doesn’t mean syam is a great author. He is one of my favorite. People think this book as a gay novel should really find some good gay novels and read it.
That’s what I think. But then again I am just a simple reader. What do I know ? :)

Denver said...

I agreed.

I really dont think love should be labeled as "Straight love", "Gay love" or "Bi love". Love is love and it's the same feeling. If I can read a love story between a man and a woman and can feel it why cant heterosexual people read it and just take it as a love story? Yes I do agree in practical it might be different. Though a novel written about a gay love story it shouldn't labeled as a "gay novel". When a straight man writes a love story between a man and a woman do we call it a "straight novel" ?
We need to break these BOXES and see and think a bit wider .

Asela said...

So true. And the fact that Amrith is Gay is just one aspect of him. Sometimes people tend to forget everything about a person and concentrate on sexuality alone (unless He / She is straight ofcourse). Amrith is much more than Gay in this story. He's talented, He's sensitive, He's a animal lover etc etc. As the story progresses don't we find asking ourselves, Why is he living with this family, who aren't even his relations? What happened to his parents? What about his memories of his mother? Why doesn't he remember his father? About the isolation he feels even in such love filled environment? There's so much to Amrith and so much more in the novel itself. As there's so much more to people than their sexuality.

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