Funny Boy and the Pleasure of Breaking Rules: Bending Genre and Gender in “The Best School of All”

Kaustav Bakshi


This paper focusing on the fifth of the six stories, “The Best School of All,” that constitute Funny Boy, explores sexual identity politics on the school campus, by analysing how Selvadurai’s appropriation of the generic English school story, invests the popular genre with a disruptive potential, unknown to its original form, thereby generating immense pleasure in the reader. The paper argues that the pleasure in reading “The Best School” independent of the novel is to discover in it the familiarity of the school story, and also how it is constantly de-familiarised. By relating theories of genre, gender, nation and the diaspora, the paper attempts to show that “The Best School,” not only subverts generic rules by transfiguring an overtly masculinist genre to accommodate queer desires; it also opens up a dialogic space by confronting authoritative discourses on the colonial system of values perpetuated through the educational institutions, compulsory heterosexuality and ethno-centric nationalism of the postcolonial nation-state. In effect, “The Best School” becomes an important node in the dialogic network of queer narratives produced across the globe, qualifying as a “cause” novel: it advocates recognition of non-heteronormative identities and desires in a postcolonial nation, which is politically and morally opposed to legalising homosexuality, still criminalised under a Draconian colonial law.


school story; colonial pedagogy; homoeroticism; queer romance; homosexuality in postcolonial Sri Lanka

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