Born in 1965 to a Sinhalese mother and a Tamilian father during the tense political climate of Sri Lanka, Shyam Selvadurai has incorporated many of his own experiences in his novel Funny Boy. Shyam left Sri Lanka due to the political tensions at the time and immigrated to Canada with his family when he was 19. He studied creative writing at the University of York. He published Funny Boy, his first novel to a warm critical reception in 1994 and won the WH Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award and in the US the Lambda Literary Award. Funny Boy was also named a Notable Book by the American Library Association. Funny Boy has been translated into 8 languages. Shyam's second novel, Cinnamon Gardens, has been translated into 9 languages. It was shortlisted for Canada’s Trillium Award, as well as the Aloa Literary Award in Denmark and the Premio Internazionale Riccardo Bacchelli in Italy.
In addition to his novels, Shyam edited the anthology, Story-Wallah: A Celebration of South Asian Fiction. He also wrote, Swimming in the Monsoon Sea, a novel for young adults, which was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award and won the Lambda Literary Award in the US, the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Award, and Silver Winner in the Young Adult Category of ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award.
Shyam's articles have been featured in The New York Times, Time Magazine, Toronto Life, Walrus Magazine, Enroute Magazine, The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. His fourth novel, The Hungry Ghosts, was published April 2, 2013 in Canada, India, and Sri Lanka. It was shortlisted for Canada’s prestigious Governor General’s Award for Fiction and longlisted for the DSC South Asia Literature Prize. His latest work is a comprehensive anthology of Sri Lankan literature, Many Roads Through Paradise.