Beggar's Feast

Overview

Sam Kandy, born to low prospects in a Ceylon village in 1899, dies a hundred years later as the wealthy headman of the same village—a self-made shipping magnate and the father of sixteen who’s been married three times and widowed twice.

Told in four parts, this enthralling novel traces Sam’s story from his boyhood—when his parents, convinced by his horoscope that he’d be a blight upon the family, abandon him at the gates of a distant temple—through to his dramatic escape from ...

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Beggar's Feast

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Overview

Sam Kandy, born to low prospects in a Ceylon village in 1899, dies a hundred years later as the wealthy headman of the same village—a self-made shipping magnate and the father of sixteen who’s been married three times and widowed twice.

Told in four parts, this enthralling novel traces Sam’s story from his boyhood—when his parents, convinced by his horoscope that he’d be a blight upon the family, abandon him at the gates of a distant temple—through to his dramatic escape from the temple, his daring journey across Ceylon to Australia and Singapore, and his bold return to the Ceylon village he once called home. There, he tries to win recognition for his success in the world—at any cost.

A novel about family, pride, and ambition set on a gorgeous, troubled island caught between tradition and modernity, Beggar’s Feast establishes Boyagoda as a major voice in international literature.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
This gleaming novel tells the story of a Ceylonese Odysseus born poor in 1899. Through his protagonist's long and eventful life, Randy Boyagoda explores themes of shifting identity, of the diamond-hard determination to evade one's destiny and of the inner landscapes of an island that itself undergoes a dramatic transformation…It is an ambitious book that seeks to convey the sweep of history through the prism of one island. The lush style of Boyagoda's prose suits the novel's background of glittering paddy fields…
—Sara Wheeler
Library Journal
In his second novel (after Governor of the Northern Province, long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize), Boyagoda follows the life of Sam Kandy, born in 1899 in a small village in Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) and determined to rise above his lot. Singularly focused on his desire to achieve greatness and return to his village as a man to be respected and feared, Sam exhibits few redeeming qualities as he leaves a swath of broken lives in his path. Ironically, his ultimate success is brought about by a chance encounter and the will of a woman 30 years his junior. Boyagoda does an admirable job of re-creating the political and historical atmosphere of a developing country as he transports readers to Ceylon, Australia, and Singapore throughout the 20th century, providing insight into the evolving Asia Pacific region. VERDICT Boyagoda's intriguing but not exactly admirable protagonist can be a challenge, but the richly detailed setting makes for a rewarding read.—Catherine Tingelstad, Pitt Community Coll., Greenville, NC
Kirkus Reviews
Boyagoda's (Governor of the Northern Province, 2006) historical tale about a man who strives to avenge his past is a savory delight. When a young boy is born into an impoverished family in British-occupied Ceylon in 1899, his parents, convinced that he's bad luck, abandon him near a monastery. Humiliated by rejection and abused by a monk, the boy runs away, travels to Colombo and reinvents himself as Sam Kandy. There, he becomes one of the many street urchins who scrabble for survival. But Sam is fueled by more than just the need to survive. He's embittered and driven, and he dreams of one day avenging the wrongs committed against him. He hungers for riches and recognition, certain that one day he will return to his birthplace as the most powerful man in the village. Traveling from Ceylon to Australia and Singapore and back again, he amasses and loses fortunes, but he never loses sight of his goal. Through vivid depictions of political turmoil and cultural transition during Sam's century of life, the reader is drawn into Sam's world by the very nature of his single-mindedness, aptly described by the author. Like him or not, Sam's an intriguing man who's insensitive, selfish and cowardly, and his actions--whether he's opening a butterfly hall, leading a gang of ragamuffins, starting a shipping agency or striking a deal with Lord Mountbatten--are always calculated to give him an advantage. Sam extracts what he can from each experience as he schemes, plots and bribes his way through the early years of his life, and he ruthlessly weeds out those who threaten to get in his way, whether they are family or not. His redemptive about-face in later years adds yet another layer to a multifaceted, engrossing story. Prepare for a verbal feast that will thoroughly entertain and satisfy, yet leave you hungering for more.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670066582
  • Publisher: Pintail
  • Publication date: 9/25/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 689,507
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Randy Boyagoda's first novel, Governor of the Northern Province, was critically acclaimed and long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. The Beggar's Feast was longlisted for the 2013 IMPAC Dublin Literary Prize.

He regularly reviews for The New York Times, Harper's and The Globe and Mail and is writing a biography of Richard John Neuhaus, which will be published in 2014. He is Chairman of the English Department at Ryerson University.

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