Behind the Moon

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Press:Soho Press Soho Press (January 1, 2007)
Publication Date:2007-01-01
Author Name:Hsu-Ming Teo


“Behind the Moon is a satisfying, original and thought-provoking pleasure.”—Good Reading Magazine   “Neatly balanc[es] betrayal and real drama, with farce and macabre, biting humour. . . . 
Highly recommended.”—Australian Bookseller & Publisher   Outsiders and misfits in their Australian school, three friends form a mutual bond: Justin Cheong, an only child and the idol of his Singaporean-Chinese parents; Tien Ho—daughter of a Vietnamese mother who stayed behind and an African American soldier she has never met—who lives with indifferent relatives; and Nigel “Gibbo” Gibson, an oddity: an Australian boy who, to his father’s chagrin, dislikes sports.
  When Tien Ho’s mother arrives, the adjustment for mother and daughter is extreme.
Gibbo is strongly attracted to beautiful, dainty Linh, to whom he is a kid, her daughter’s pal.
And Justin discovers that he likes Gibbo as something more than a friend.
  The three draw apart as they grow up, only to be reunited once more on Saturday, September 6, 1997, for the dinner Mrs.
Cheong hosts for them and their parents, to watch the funeral of Princess Diana on television.
This Dead Diana Dinner turns out to be a more explosive event than any of them would have dreamed possible.


"A beautifully crafted story of immigrant alienation, splintered  families and the saving grace of friendship.... 
Never loses its emotional intimacy." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review), November 1, 2006"Teo's thoroughly untrodden perspective concerns three bonded misfits....
[She] does a wonderful job of taking us inside each character's world." -- Time Out New York, February 15-21, 2007

About the Author

Hsu-Ming Teo was born in Malaysia in 1970 and immigrated with her family to Australia in 1977. 
She is the author of Love and Vertigo, which won The Australian/Vogel Literary Award and has been translated into German, Italian, Thai and Chinese.
She lives in Sydney and is a lecturer in modern history at Macquarie University.


Gay & Lesbian,Literature & Fiction,Fiction,Gay,Genre Fiction

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Comment List (Total:4)

  •     Hsu-Ming Teo's novel was published in Australia in 2005 and released in the US this year. It is basically a story about three friends with multi-cultural backgrounds. Justin Cheong is a Chinese-Australian who is the picture-perfect son. His world becomes increasingly unstable as he comes to terms with his attraction to other men. Tien is the child of a Vietnamese woman and an African-American soldier. Living with her aunt and uncle in Australia, she straddles worlds of identity between Asian culture, Australian culture and wondering about her American father. Gibbo is a Caucasian Australian whose culture serves as a foil to the Asian. Overweight, Gibbo lacks confidence. He bonds with Justin & Tien as outcasts.Teo sets up the classic "No Exit" triangle where Justin loves Gibbo, Gibbo loves Tien, and Tien loves Justin. After the elementary to high school years, the friends draw apart. Justin goes camping with Gibbo with unfortunate results. Tien goes to prom with Gibbo with unfortunate results. The novel reunites them toward the end of college @ the Dead Diana Dinner (DDD) where relatives gather to morn the loss of the British princess and watch her funeral on TV. Here, the parents begin to take center stage and we go through their history. Gibbo's mom has been like a mother to Tien, but backs off when Tien's mother Linh finally arrives in Australia from Vietnam, via a Malaysian refugee camp. Gibbo's dad is a brusque medical doctor who gets upset with Justin's dad Tek and spills the beans about Justin's sexual orientation. Meanwhile, everyone has forgotten that this is also the meek Gibbo's 21st birthday. Tien plans to announce her engagement to Stanley, but Gibbo's mom knocks him out thinking she's caught an intruder.From the DDD, the novels spends several chapter in flashback as we learn all about Linh's history and her love affair with American GI Bucky. We also flash forward to see Tien in San Francisco with her husband Stanley and follow them through his modern art phase and Tien's flirtation with a new age feminist group that enjoys giving themselves haircuts in private places. Justin's life resembles that country song, "Looking for love in all the wrong places." Meanwhile, Gibbo develops an unwelcome attachment to Linh.This episodic novel sounds a bit melodramatic, but reads well. The characters are distinct and interesting, although none are perfect. Teo tries wax philosophical about the weaving of relationships into a lifetime pattern. For me, the Asian cultural self-analysis was interesting as people from various cultural backgrounds try to establish their own roots. Enjoy!
  •     This is the story of three friends and their families. This trio consists of "multicultural rejects"; Justin "Jay" is the gay child of Chinese immigrants; Tien Ho, conceived out-of-wedlock during the Vietnamese War by a Vietnamese mother and African-American GI father; and Gibbo, a chubby, white, socially inept Australian who yearns to be Asain. Each character feels out of place in society and clings to each other only to find that they are even out of place with each other.After drifting apart for a few years, their parents take action to bring them together. They orchestrate a dinner to celebrate the life of Princess Diana and watch the live coverage of her funeral. During the course of the dinner, Justin is outed, Tien's fiance is knocked unconscious, everyone is ashamed when it occurs to them that they forgot Gibbo's birthday. And to top it off, the food is awful!Despite this disastrous dinner, it sets a series of events in motion to reconcile not only the three friends, but the families. In the worst of times, Justin's in a coma, Tien is getting divorced, and Gibbo is accused of being a stalker, they all come together to support each other.This book is captivating from the start and is wonderfully written. The author takes you on a journey with each character, bringing depth and perspective to the series of events. I came away from this book having learned something about people, life and relationships. For instance:Tien's mother, Lihn, in love with a black American solider, is rejected by her family for her love. In a letter to her father, she quotes a Vietnamese author I'd never heard of before, Nguyen Du:"It blows one day & rains the nextHow often does chance favor us in the Spring?If you ignore and scorn my desperate loveyou'll hurt me- yet what will it profit you?"The Tale of KieuThis passage struck me as relevant to my own life as many of my friends are in the stage of life where they are deciding who to spend the rest of their lives with. Not everyone is making good choices, in my opinion, and it's always difficult to know when you should speak up to prevent disaster and when to let people make their own mistakes. There were other passages and messages in this book that were thought provoking and had me reflecting on my life.As good of a book as this was, I still have to give it an overall rating of a 4-stars because of the ending. It was a little too....... happily ever after, for my taste.
  •     Didn't connect to the characters
  •     Excellent novel about cultural/generational borderlands and the search for personal identity. Tells the story of three marginalised young outcasts who forge a strong bond of friendhip that helps see them through various life dramas. Teo is a highly intelligent writer who makes you care about her characters, she is also excellent at evoking the flavour of various cultures in her writing. A thought provoking tale of borders, boundaries and coming of age in the cultural melting pot of contemporary Australia, told with plenty of wit and heart.

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