Reviews

Here is some of what others are saying about Imagining Gay Paradise:

“One rarely reads a book compelling as a thriller yet as probing as a scholarly study. The book is remarkably satisfying, especially in terms of the author’s using disparate landmarks to arrive at a single destination—mapping a new reality of interconnected desires in which cultures, faiths, traditions, and ethnicities overlap by means of a shared sexuality and surreality. The author demonstrates the interrelatedness of the parallel worlds of ‘other’ and this magically real world of the Mystery in the lives and achievements of the men whose stories he tells. The writing is so propulsive and authoritative, yet full of poetry and depth, that anyone reading the book will take away something of value.” — Grant Hayter-Menzies, author of The Empress and Mrs. Conger

“An impeccably documented academic study that also reads like a mystery thriller or almost like an exposé. The book is at the same time a historical study, a social-cultural commentary, analytical biography, and gay study.” Kenneth Dobson, Out in Thailand

“Atkins weaves together history, architectural theories, gender studies, colonial practices, and even Confucian dualities into a compelling narrative that feels like a novel. The book illustrates the remarkable changes in the region’s history through the personal stories of a few unusual men.” The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide

“Homosexuality in Southeast Asia has been studied mostly as developments in individual countries within the region. Atkins has skillfully deployed a storytelling device of several protagonists’ common attempts to create a ‘paradise’ for gay men—Bali, Bangkok and Singapore, or more precisely the space they offered to gay people at a particular period in time. The book contributes to our understanding of the important role that gender issues can play in national politics; more specifically how it can be a weapon used by politicians in their power play. The writer rewards his readers with a richness of details, and stitches his huge canvas of events with literary flair, making it an easy read.” — Russell Heng Hiang Khng, author of Outlaws at the Table: Gay Activists in Singapore Civil Society

“A well-researched, engaging narrative.” Rachel Wexelbaum, Lambda Literary

“Atkins does not make this book a chronological series of biographical tales, but intersperses them, one with the other, to bring out the way the history of such unconnected lives resonates with similar themes… His background in media studies has given him a racy, journalistic style of writing that strongly and clearly carries his narrative lines. His prose is thankfully unencumbered by the impenetrable ‘Queer Theory’ style of English…You can read Atkins with pleasure and without having to lug a dictionary around with you.” — Nigel Collett, author of The Butcher of Amritsar, writing for fridae.asia.

“Author Gary Atkins’s unique blend of personally focused narrative, historical context and cultural trends make this book a compelling read. Bali, Bangkok and Singapore may be the locales; German painter Walter Spies, Thai king Rama VI and Singaporean entrepreneur Stuart (“S2”) Koe the major players. But the broader canvas never gets lost from view. Rather, it is remarkably enhanced as we encounter well known figures through the experience of select gay men. For example, Anna Leonowens (whose story was romanticized in the hit musical “The King and I”) educated Rama VI’s father, and by extension Rama VI himself, into European ideals of civilization. Her legacy led both to Thai adoption of, and backlash against, Victorian sexual mores. Also in this book we see Hitler’s rise to power and his near extinction by the Weimar Republic, as well as the suffering of his compatriot Walter Spies under both Nazi and anti-Nazi regimes. We get a ringside seat as anthropologists Margaret Mead and husband Gregory Bateson defend Spies using scientific arguments. Throughout the narrative, history interweaves with culture in perceptive discussions of art (painting, photography, cinema), music and literature (King Rama VI was a poet and playwright). Atkins’s writing is amazing–fluid, astute, educational and entertaining. Recommended for those interested in a good read, a painless introduction to Asian cultural history and/or the progress of human rights worldwide — Judy Nill, author of Simple Twists of Faith

From the Seattle Times’ John Hartl: Imagining Gay Paradise “covers more than a century of progress and defeat in the way homosexuals have been treated [in Southeast Asia], skillfully connecting the stories of artists, anthropologists, businessmen and computer experts.”  Click here to see the full review.

And here is what some have said about Gary Atkins’ previous book examining gay “coming home,” Gay Seattle:

“This is one of the best works of regional history to be issued in the past five years or so.”– Dan Hays, Salem Statesman Journal

“A groundbreaking new book…[This] story as been told in fragmented fashion in newspapers and on television, but it’s never been put together in such dramatic fashion before…[Atkins] has a gift for transforming each story into a page turner…Gay Seattle tells the story of 20th-century Seattle in more compelling detail than any other book.”
– John Hartl, Special to The Seattle Times

“A detailed study of the evolution of lesbians and gays in Seattle that contributes significantly to the larger historical studies of gender and geography…In his lively narrative based on extensive oral histories and public records, Atkins skillfully weaves national changes and developments into stories of local individuals and movements, making this a study of importance far beyond the borders of the Pacific Northwest…A fast-paced, informative, and entertaining read.” – History: Reviews of New Books

‘Atkins’ sharp style is a fluid combination of observant, level-headed reportage and you-are-there storytelling. It’s the kind of rich, accessible writing that will have you opening the book on any page, intending a quick skim, and finding yourself still reading an hour later…Atkins has accomplished something fine here: an important social document that feels less like dry history and more like life.”
– Steve Wiecking, Seattle Weekly

“Gary Atkins has given us a richly textured and wonderfully readable account of the development of gay and lesbian life in one American city…Gay Seattle is a major contribution to gay and lesbian history. It adds significantly to our understanding of the emergence of gay urban communities in the second half of the twenthieth century. And its rich tapestry of personal stories makes it a pleasure to read.” – Committee on Gay and Lesbian History Newsletter

Buy Imagining Gay Paradise from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Columbia University Press, Hong Kong University PressSilkworm Books, Kinokuniya Thailand, Kinokuniya Singapore, University of British Columbia Press, Eurospan

Add Imagining Gay Paradise to your Goodreads:

Imagining Gay Paradise: Bali, Bangkok, and Cyber-Singapore

Buy Gay Seattle from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or University of Washington Press

Add Gay Seattle to your Goodreads:

Gay Seattle: Stories Of Exile And Belonging

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s