REVIEW

"AFTER AWHILE, ISA sat up and looked around the clearing, suddenly frightened, suddenly realizing where he was and that he was naked and vulnerable.

Something bad could happen if he continued to lie there and do nothing. A python could be stealing through the brush, ready to ambush. He put his underwear and shorts back on and got painfully to his feet, hobbling back the way he had come, through the large fronds, wanting to get out of the jungle before... whatever.

His butt and lower back hurt, and this made walking difficult, but he ignored the pain and hurried as fast as he could, not stopping until he reached the safety of the banana trees. From there, he walked slowly, in a sort of daze, uncertain as to what had just happened to him or what it meant."


Adventures of a Bird-Shit Foreigner is the story of fourteen year-old Isa, the child of an American GI and a Thai prostitute. According to Alyson Books, the publisher, "Thai society can be cruel to those not of pure breeding—they are called 'bird-shit' foreigners".

That must rank as understatement of the year. Abandoned by his mother, Isa is brought up by his hateful grandparents, who call him half and half. He's also called that (and other things) by the plantation workers, who take turns raping him in the jungle, and by the homeless boys he meets when he runs away to Bangkok, the leader of whom gets him hooked on heroin and - after an initiation involving a spot of oral sex - pimps him out. So far, not the best start in life, and things get worse before they get better.

Sulayman X's novel, despite the grim content, is utterly compelling in its telling of a young boy's journey of discovery, and healing; the setting is rich and the characters captivating. The joy comes from Sulayman's sheer human empathy - every character is a complete human being with a story.

The fragile love story that develops between Isa and Hamid - the son of the Muslim Iman who takes Isa in - is poignant and beautiful - as beautiful as Jummah is repellant. Jummah, the teacher entrusted with teaching Isa the Koran, takes his turn using the boy, too...

Adventures of a Bird-Shit Foreigner is a page-turner and a real joy. One thing's for certain: you'll never look at a Visa card in the same way again.

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9 comments:

Dusty Boot said...

You do write interesting reviews... hrmm....

ka-os said...

LOL... that's a fairly ambiguous statement, punctuated as it is by "hrmm"...

Dusty Boot said...

:)

ka-os said...

As explanations go, that falls a little short in the details department.

Dusty Boot said...

Persistent, aren't we.....

The "hrmmm" was me, thinking, "how could I make a review half-interesting as that on my dry, boring books?!"

And when exactly do you sleep? It's 05:00 over there... my god.

ka-os said...

I'm a paranoid, alcoholic insomniac. And I should read more "dry, boring books". The last one was Angus Kress Gillespie's The Life of New York City's World Trade Center. It was utterly compelling.

I should really branch out from gay fiction, I never used to be so ghettoised. And history was one of my favourite subjects at school so I *know* I would love the "dry, boring" books you speak of.

And let's not even get into Sanya's reading list. Short on gay, but learned in every other respect...

Mike said...

ka-os: ya needs to compile a list of international black blogs from a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic perspective and put yours at the top of the list. :)

The worldly aspects of your blog is most definitely noted and appreciated. And while you might be ahead of the times, it's definitely the future of the world for sure. Thanks for posting.

ka-os said...

Mike - wow! Thank you. That really made my day. :)

(Though I don't consider myself a black blog. Just a gay blog.)

Mike said...

Humour me with the "black" blog reference for it was a weak attempt at identity humour.

I recently read a Latino-oriented script where the protagonist's sidekick was white, but decided to learn all about the Latino culture and traditions, and "became" a Latino.

This irked the bejesus out of the Latino characters. They couldn't wrap their heads around how the she could refer to herself as Latino, if she didn't LOOK Latino.

The sidekick was naive (intelligent) enough to remain unfazed, even after repeated attacks by the Latinos. This irked the Latino even more. It was all quite amusing.

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