Adventures of a Bird-Shit Foreigner

Fri. November 10, 2006 12:00 AM
by Chad Sosna

Book: Adventures of a Bird-Shit Foreigner
Author: Sulayman X
Review: 5 stars (out of 5)
X marks the spot once again

After loving "Bilal's Bread," the first novel from Sulayman X, I was eager to read this one--and I was not disappointed. This is the story of young Isa, who as the offspring of an American GI and his Thai mother, is known as a "bird-shit foreigner." The story gives a quick overview of his sad upbringing as a half-breed, and launches into his life on a banana plantation, living with his stern grandparents. After watching the workmen, one of them figures out his nature and rapes him. Then several of the men have him.

In physical and emotion pain, he runs away to Shanghai and makes a living the first way he finds how--by working as a young boy male prostitute and living in a public park. When he hits bottom, strung out on heroin, he is discovered by a kindly Muslim family. The healing process begins, but slowly, and haphazardly, as he falls in love with a son in the family who is his same age.

He has always wanted to find his mother, and some other unspoken wishes and dreams come to fruition here. So many fine points are deeply thought out. For instance, the name "Isa," which seems Muslim to the family who takes him in, was really from his careless prostitute mother, who saw a battered sign in the hospital as she was going into labor: "...isa and Mastercard Accepted."

Though there were a few points of self-reflection that came across to me as "tell instead of show" (when the rule is "show instead of tell") the story is so rich, the plot so captivating and Isa's character so well-drawn that I can't give this book less than the top rating. Sulayman X is truly breaking new ground in writing about gay life.