John Corr

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Daniel Coleman




In producing texts which implicidy critique overlapping matrices of power, Shyam Selvadurai has made a vital contribution to the field of Canadian literature by writing Funny Boy (1994) and Cinnamon Gardens (1998). "Subversive Sexualities in the Fiction of Shyam Selvadurai" attends to the way these texts demand thoughtful and sensitive readings by evading oversimplified sexual, national, and ethnic categorizations. As its title indicates, this project recognizes the axis of sexuality as foremost among, though never isolated from, the multiple intersecting cultural constructions of identity in Selvadurai's novels. Though Selvadurai's texts were written and first published in Canada, a discussion of these texts as "Canadian" is complicated by the fact that Canada appears only briefly in Funny Boy and does not appear at all in Cinnamon Gardens. Nonetheless, this project contends that the various levels of meaning in Selvadurai's texts are best understood when they are considered in a diasporic frame. Thus, while the first chapter explores characters' local, familial situations without considering broader cultural context and the second chapter emphasizes Sri Lankan national cultural context, these studies contribute to an overall reading of Selvadurai's texts - crystallized in the third chapter - as Canadian diasporic articulations. While criticism of Selvadurai's texts has been published internationally, "Subversive Sexualities in the Fiction of Shyam Selvadurai" is unique in its recognition of the underlying importance of the texts' "Canadian-ness" as well as the tangible, dramatic impact that his texts have had in his country-of-origin as a result of this textual production.

McMaster University Library

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