Shyam Selvadurai

The Hungry Ghosts

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In Buddhist myth, those that have desired too much in life may be reborn as “hungry ghosts”- spirits with a stomach so large they can never be full. Six year-old Shivan is boarded up in his grandmother's mansion in Sri Lanka. While civil unrest brews outside, Shivan is fighting small battles of his own: the matriarch of his mysterious family wants to groom him as the heir to her vast and corrupt empire. Shivan stands helpless as she sidelines his mother and sister and evicts vulnerable families from their homes. Unwilling to carry the burden of her expectations, Shivan dreams of escape to the West. Yet ghosts will follow you across continents. As the years pass, and Shivan's sexuality gradually comes to light, events spiral out of control and threaten to separate him from his family once and for all. The Hungry Ghosts is an exquisite tale of differences and how they can tear apart both a country and the heart – not just once, but many times, until the ghosts are freed. An unsettling and moving account of a family – and a nation – at war with their own selves' Tan Twan Eng Unflinchingly insightful, Shyam Selvadurai's new novel evokes the clashing manifestations of human desire and longing in two continents.' Pankaj Mishra A ravishing portrait not just of one man but of an entire country's search for a resting place' Tash Aw A tender and haunting meditation on the long reach of the past' Michelle de Kretser
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496 printed pages
Original publication
Saqi, Telegram Books


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