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The Rice Queen Diaries - A Memoir

The Rice Queen Diaries

A Memoir

By Daniel Gawthrop
Categories: LGBTQ+, Gay Literature, Biography & Memoir, Cultural Studies
Paperback : 9781551521893, 256 pages, 2005
Read Excerpt (PDF)


In this moving autobiography, Daniel Gawthrop writes about the politics and pleasures of being a self-identified "rice queen": a gay man who is attracted to Asians. Navigating through the urban jungles of Western cities like Vancouver and London, as well as the humid streets of Bangkok and Saigon, Daniel explores the multicultural minefields of sexuality and culture as he articulates the manners and contradictions of his desires.

The politics of race, and the unspoken rules of gay Asian culture in both Western and Eastern settings, underscore Daniel's personal journey in which he recalls his teen years spent idolizing Bruce Lee and his fixation on an Asian schoolmate whose hazing becomes a sexual spectacle for him. As he enters adulthood, his desires become manifest as he explores the subcultures of Long Yang Clubs (where gay Asians and "their admirers" can meet) before departing for Asia, where his encounters often become transactions, and he learns the hard way that sexual desire has a human and emotional cost.

Evoking the themes of Edward Said's Orientalism, The Rice Queen Diaries is as much a personal statement about culture and otherness as it is about gay desire. Traversing three continents, these diaries are a personal reckoning, a bold coming to terms with the nuances of sexuality that has relevance for all of us.


  • Short-listed, Independent Publishers Awards - Biography / Memoir 2006
  • Short-listed, ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award 2006


Daniel Gawthrop's The Rice Queen Diaries is that rare book that has something interesting and provocative to say about both desire and culture. It is personally frank and politically sophisticated. And in these days of moralism on the right and political correctness on the left, it suggests that in our bumbling pursuit of the obscure object of desire, we may be a lot more innocent than we think.
-Stan Persky

- Stan Persky

A graceful narrative.
-Vancouver Sun

- Vancouver Sun

An intriguing variation on the classic coming out narrative, one that attempts to depict not only the emergence of a queer identity, but of a form of queer sexuality that is tangled up with issues or racial and cultural identity as well.
-Bay Area Reporter

- Bay Area Reporter

'Rice queens' is not yet an authorized [library] subject heading, but it may soon be on the way with this worthy literary warrant.
-American Library Association GLBTRT Newsletter

- ALA GLBT newsletter

Well written and thoughtful, Gawthrop's work is bound to engage readers.
-Canadian Book Review Annual

- Canadian Book Review Annual

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.
-Geist Magazine

- Geist Magazine

Daniel Gawthrop's sensitive, troubling and sometimes uncomfortably sexy memoir, The Rice Queen Diaries, finds him simultaneously questioning and celebrating his addictive sexual attraction to Asian men . .. in chronicling his travels--as well as his own internal journey--Gawthrop provides fascinating challenges to the tyranny of political correctness while struggling with the dangerously consuming nature of his own desires.

- Travelbound

An important addition to the gay canon of literature. .. Gawthrop does a fine job in detailing the narrator's sexual odyssey without overly exoticizing it. .. (Ricepaper)

- Ricepaper

Move over Bridget Jones. This autobiography explores the life of a self-declared rice queen--a gay man who loves Asian men. If this were turned into a movie starring Colin Firth, it might permanently break him out of his rut of onscreen impotent simmering at teenage girls. Oh, dreams.
-Vancouver Magazine

- Vancouver Magazine

The Rice Queen Diaries has the appearance of an academic tract, with indented quotations from a variety of popular, literary and otherwise sources, while largely reading as a first-person recollection of predominately sexual experiences across three continents. Gawthrop splices the two approaches and The Rice Queen Diaries can be understood as aiming to deconstruct predominant notions of the 'rice queen' in terms of testing personal experience against received ideas and stereotypes.

- Brian Curtin

This insightful memoir about the author's near-exclusive attraction to Asian men covers a lot of sexual, emotional and cultural ground--and growth . .. the book comes into its strength when Gawthrop addresses disparate cultures of desire--when he comes to understand, for example, that many of his sexual encounters in Thailand were more financial transactions than romantic interludes.

- Newsweekly

Gawthrop, like Yukio Mishima, is adept at invoking virile beauty. ... The book's main journey is toward Gawthrop's fuller understanding of himself.
-Gay & Lesbian Review

- Tom Baker

This is no PC guilt fest. Gawthrop . .. nicely reveals the complexity of human desire, and there's some great Southeast Asian scenery along the way.
-Vancouver Review

- Vancouver Review