Reviews

The Rice Queen Diaries

Carra Noelle Simpson

In The Rice Queen Diaries (Arsenal Pulp Press), Daniel Gawthrop grapples with his own version of white male seeking Asian girls: gay white male seeking Asian men. He starts with a high-school crush on Bruce Lee, then describes his initiation and experiences as a rice queen in “nature walks” at Wreck Beach, muddy romps on the banks of the Assiniboine River and encounters with an endless stream of bodies in Thailand and Vietnam. Gawthrop’s account incorporates a somewhat academic treatment of North American exploitation of Southeast Asian culture and the sex trade there, and he also writes honestly about his own guilt and dissatisfaction: many of the men he encounters are not lovers but employees mechanically offering sexual favours in return for payment. Vivid and at times jarring, The Rice Queen Diaries is an eye-opening and challenging read for anyone willing to step into its sticky, bittersweet realm.

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