New Novel Follows Asian-American to US Citizenship

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"Potato Queen" is a new novel by first-time writer Rafaelito Sy. Rafaelito V. Sy builds on his experience as a gay Filipino immigrant in the US to explore the journey to US citizenship and personal discovery.

Racism, pornography, transgenderism, club partying, drugs and unsafe sex... Rafaelito V. Sy builds on his experience as a gay Filipino immigrant in the US to create a cast of characters whose lives these issues affect in his new novel Potato Queen (ISBN: 1928662064) coming out in July 2005 from Palari Publishing.

Potato Queen starts off in Manila, Philippines, where a young Juancho Chu is living vicariously through reruns of US television sitcoms and dreaming of a life in the less oppressive land of America. As a young man, Juancho makes his way to San Francisco to establish a life for himself in the United States. While working at a travel agency ironically selling tours to “exotic” locales like the Philippines, Juancho works toward his US citizenship.

It’s not long before he begins making friends and discovering the gay nightlife that San Francisco has to offer. Along comes Gerald, a white man who is attracted to Asian men – a “rice queen.” Juancho finds that he is usually attracted to white men, thus dubbed a “potato queen.” Juancho and Gerald seem to be perfect for each other, but complications along the way include a variety of very willing Asian men and a surprisingly down-to-earth white porn star.

Will Juancho and Gerald remain “just friends?” Will Juancho secure the US citizenship he has always dreamed of? Will he actually meet the porn star he used to watch on the big screen in dark movie houses?

Rafaelito V. Sy was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. He has also lived in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, Boston, and New York. He earned his B. A. in English from Tufts University and his M. F. A. in Creative Writing from Cornell University, where he taught the personal essay and creative writing.

With his story, Mr. Sy hopes to shine a much-needed focus on the process of becoming a US citizen and learning to accept your own truths. Sy says, “I hope this book reaches out to others who feel alone in a new country.”

Rafaelito Sy will be conducting book signings and interviews to support Potato Queen.

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David Smitherman