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Fiction Literary

Cinnamon Gardens

by (author) Shyam Selvadurai

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Sep 1999
Literary, Historical
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 1999
    List Price

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Set in 1920s’ Ceylon, during the turbulent closing days of colonial rule, this evocative story of intertwined lives takes us behind the fragrant gardens and polished surfaces of the elite who reside in a wealthy suburb of Colombo to reveal a world of splintered families, conflicted passions, and lives destroyed by class hatred. Annalukshmi, a spirited young schoolteacher, finds herself caught between her family’s pressures to marry and her own desire for a more independent life. Then there is her uncle Balendran, whose comfortable life of privilege is rocked by the arrival of Richard, a lover from his past. Their uneasy reunion re-ignites tensions with Balendran’s powerful father, and threatens all on which Balendran has built his present life. Sensual, perceptive, and wise, Cinnamon Gardens is a novel of exceptional achievement—an exquisite tapestry of lives.

About the author

Shyam Selvadurai was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and came to Canada with his family at the age of nineteen. He has studied creative writing and theatre and has a B.F.A. from York University. His first novel, "Funny Boy", became a national bestseller, won the W.H. Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award as well as the Lamda Literary Award, and was named a Notable Book by the American Library Association. His next novel, "Cinnamon Gardens", was shortlisted for the Trillium Award, and has been published in the United States, United Kingdom, India and across Europe. Selvadurai lives in Toronto.

Shyam Selvadurai's profile page


  • Nominated, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Editorial Reviews

“A near-miraculous capturing of life and love (both gay and straight), family tensions, political upheaval, labour unrest and feminism in the Ceylon of the 1920s.”
Edmonton Journal

“Faultlessly elegant. . . . Selvadurai is expert in capturing the nuances of this particularly precious time and place.”
New York Times Book Review

“Subtle and deeply humane. . . . Shyam Selvadurai has established himself firmly as an important chronicler of the complexities of social and cultural difference.”
Books in Canada

“Selvadurai’ s nuanced prose evokes the country’s dense climate and lush beauty.”
Toronto Star

“Richly rewarding. . . . This is a novel that deserves, and will surely gain, a wide readership.”
Sunday Times (U.K.)

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