The front cover of Funny BoyAlthough this year’s Gryphons Read event at the University of Guelph has been a little different, the mission has been the same: to gather members of the University community to discuss an engaging book and learn more from the author themselves.

This year, that book is Funny Boy, published by McClelland and Stewart and written by Shyam Selvadurai, a creative writing instructor in U of G’s School of English and Theatre Studies.

After spending the summer reading the book, Gryphons Read participants can now take part in a virtual interactive conversation with the author, hosted by Canadian author Devyani Saltzman, on Sept. 30.

Kobo downloads of the e-book are still available. Enter promo code GRYPHONS2020 to download the book for free.

Selvadurai will join the U of G community through videoconference to discuss the book’s themes and the writing process, as well as how he adapted his own novel into a screenplay. The event is free and open to the public.

Funny Boy tells the story of Arjie Chelvaratnam, a Tamil boy growing up in an extended family in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The story traces the boy’s bittersweet passage to maturity and sexual awakening against escalating political tensions in Sri Lanka during the seven years leading to the 1983 riots.

The novel won the W.H. Smith Books/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Lambda Award for Best Gay Men’s Fiction in 1997, and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize in 1994.

Selvadurai wrote the screenplay for director Deepa Mehta’s big-screen adaptation, to be released soon.

Gryphons Read interim committee chair Prof. Brittany Luby, Department of History, said she loved Selvadurai’s book.

“His was a story I wanted to carry with me. It is tender, moving and a reminder of our capacity for love and for violence,” she said. “The Gryphons Read Committee is honoured to welcome Selvadurai to share Funny Boy with the campus community online and to explore these important themes.”

Gryphons Read is a U of G project started by acclaimed author Lawrence Hill, also a creative writing instructor in U of G’s School of English and Theatre Studies. The initiative is a collaboration among the College of Arts, the Office of the Provost, the McLaughlin Library and Student Experience.

Each year, the project selects a book by a Canadian author that explores diverse lived experiences.

This year, students who registered for the program this past spring were given a personalized code to download a free eBook copy. They also received resources to guide reflection on the book and to take part in small discussion groups with student facilitators.

A Zoom link to the Sept. 30 event with Selvadurai will be made available closer to the date on the Gryphons Read website. Participants can register online now.


Sandra Sabatini
U of G Gryphons Read committee co-ordinator