A novel about London's Vietnamese boat people, the roles of the past in dreams of the future, and the search for the meanings of life.
Thuy Nguyen looks like ‘bright young things’, holding a high-flying job in marketing and living in an exclusive West London area with boyfriend Stephen Palmer, who is a reluctant banker, quiet, dreamy, sometimes naïve, with a rebellious streak.
What few people know is that Thuy is gripped by her past as one of the Vietnamese boat people in the early 1980s. Despite the trauma at an early age when she escaped Vietnam with her family on a rickety boat and lived at Chimawan refugee camp in Hong Kong, she is a happy, optimistic character. However, because of that rite of passage, Thuy is obsessed with food and reminiscence about a childhood friend, Quan, a nine-year-old Vietnamese boy she befriended at Chimawan, a microcosm of Vietnam’s boat people society.
Set in modern-day London but giving interwoven fictional and historical details of Hong Kong’s Chimawan refugee camp in the 1980s, ‘ALCOHOLIC RICE’ gives a glimpse into the life of Vietnamese immigrants in Britain, the roles of the past in dreams of the future, and the search for meanings of middle-class life. And lovers of Oriental food will be in for a real treat.