Gold by the Inch

GOLD BY THE INCH Lawrence Chua (Grove, $20) Set primarily in the booming brothels of early-’90s Bangkok, journalist Chua’s searing, lushly written first novel stylishly explores the shifting boundaries between sex and commerce, East and West, culture and identity. The gay 23-year-old nameless narrator — a Malaysian-born New Yorker — visits his architect brother in Thailand’s capital, where he promptly falls in love with a young local hustler and convinces himself that the feelings are mutual. Thanks to Chua’s humidly erotic, imagistic prose, the narrator’s eventual awakening is almost as provocative as Bangkok’s tawdry lures. B+

Gold by the Inch
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