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Beggar's Feast is a novel about a man who lives in defiance of fate. Sam Kandy was born in 1889 to low prospects in a Ceylon village and died one hundred years later as the wealthy headman of the same village, a self-made shipping magnate, and father of sixteen, three times married and twice widowed. In four parts, this enthralling novel tells Sam's story from his boyhood—when his parents, convinced by his horoscope that he would be a blight upon the family, abandon him at the gates of a distant temple—through his dramatic escape from the temple and journey across Ceylon to Australia and Singapore, before 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.
be beat and the others knew it and clapped and gave way: as when Sam once threw the ball for Viresh, who took it on one knee and shifted it to the other, then let it drop and drop, nearly to the ground, until a shin kick sent it high enough for a devil-dancer-fast body twirl before the other shin sent it this time waist high for a smiling half-turn finale, a dismissive jolt from the elbow finished with a casual stroll away from the circle, Viresh smiling victory at the crowd, the ball arcing fast
known and strong and sea-worthy men. Sam’s old office near the harbour they kept too; there they collected fees from young men lining the staircase every morning, many fresh cut and shaved while they waited (and Sam got a piece of that too): village sons sent barefoot, their best sarongs cinched at the knee and only let down just before they went in to meet the shipping agent Mahatteya; and also runaways, stowaways, middle sons, and the plain bored, all money-paying needful for someone in a good
wasn’t a British Council event. The only thing was to get an admission ticket to the exam, and the monk did not know how an upcountry village boy with only a temple teacher could. “But I knew straight off who would get him one,” Bopea said, beaming, staring at Sam, his arm around his son. “I knew the most generous man of the village, Sam Kandy, would want to help the smartest boy in the village, no?” Immediately Sam understood the game and he played it well, had to keep playing it after the boy
his dear friends for watching over his family while he was away. To great applause he said that patience always pays, and then he climbed into the cab of the Jesus-painted cement truck and turned on the mixer and every boy tried to join him and soon all you could see was the gold of his watch, his heavy wristlet, his rings, as he waved to the crowd that waved back until the night’s first crackers were lit and then everyone clapped and covered their ears, shaking their heads at how loud and how
answering a question from Daddy while the stranger never once looked at you—the older boys would not come from their cricket when their father called, nor would the younger boys abandon their chance to retrieve boundary balls and then heave their whole lives into the ball’s flight back to the bowler. And when they realized there were no boys to race, the girls would not leave their games of netball and French cricket, either. And so eventually it was only Rose. She always went, not only because