Book Review: 'Leche' by R. Zamora Linmark

November 5, 2011

By Claire Light

Fans of the Asian American classic Rolling the R's are in luck: R. Zamora Linmark's frenetic meditation on Hawaiian transnational teenagerhood is finally sequeled. Now-adult Vicente de los Reyes, the least flamboyant of Rolling's group of pop-obsessed adolescents, is runner-up in a Hawaiian pageant for Filipino American men. His prize is an expense-paid trip to Manila, and what at first looks like a pop-infused roots journey. On its surface, the perfect Manila travelogue, Leche takes its name both from a Filipino swearword and from the gay sex club Vince tours the city to avoid. But is it a shriekingly gay destiny he's dodging or still-painful memories of his broken and scattered family? This time around, Linmark uses his trademark po-mo fragmentation for surface texture; it compromises the novel's picaresque forward motion not a whit. This is a language — and a Manila — that should be familiar to readers of the Asian American canon, and Leche feels like the long-awaited completion of something we didn't know was incomplete.

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