By SCOTT-PATRICK MITCHELL
At 27, Benjamin Law is set to be one of the big names in Australian writing. He already has an eager fan base thanks to his incredibly candid articles in Frankie Magazine, where nothing is taboo or sacred, particularly his family.
And now, that fan base is set to explode with the release of his first book, the incredibly insightful and frank The Family Law. As the name suggests it delves headfirst into the madcap dynamics of his Asian Australian family.
The result is a collection of stories which cover his adolescence from 12 to 17 and examines in detail his family, his parent’s divorce and his eventual coming out. Oh, and his mother’s bizarre advice, which includes such gems as ‘a girl should always wash her vagina… or else worms will grow in it’.
“My mother is Chinese Malaysian and I think there is something about Chinese people that makes them very very frank about things like bodily functions,’ Law said.
“I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing but they get graphic with stuff.
“My mother, in the first five to 10 minutes of meeting my friends, will ask them whether they are going to have children and if they say they are planning to have children she will give them pretty stark advice about the whole process of giving birth and what happens to your vagina when that happens.
“This was the stuff that used to horrify me and I used to bury my head in my hands in complete embarrassment.”
For Law, the book is a biting commentary on growing up gay and Asian in Australia during the ‘90s, and as such there aren’t many books specifically targeting that genre, let alone tackling ‘90s adolescence.
“I think it’s the book I would have liked to have read as a teenage version of myself,” he said.
“I think, like most teenagers, whatever your background is, you think that you’re a freak and you think that your family is a freak and freaky as well and you can’t imagine that other families are like yours.
“So I think writing this book is coming to terms with that and myself and accepting my family really, and coming out of it proud. The things that I talk about in the book – my parent’s splitting up, me coming out as gay – that’s the sort of stuff you’re really horrified by when you’re growing up.”
info: The Family Law is available now through Black Inc Books. For more information on Benjamin Law visit www.benjamin-law.com