My family aren't the outdoors type. Despite being raised on the coast, Mum detested visits to the beach (all the sand it brought into the house), while Dad disapproved of wearing thongs ('It splits the toes'). We never camped. All those things involved in camping—pitching a tent; cooking on open fires; the insects; shitting in the woods; sleeping on rocks; getting murdered and raped in the middle of nowhere—they never appealed to us.
'We were never camping people,' Mum says now. 'Your dad never wanted to camp, and insects eat me alive. See, Asians—we're scared of dying. White people: they like to 'live life to the full', and 'die happy.''
She pauses. 'Asians are the opposite.'
We preferred theme parks.
Hilarious and moving, The Family Law is a linked series of tales from a born humorist – and a literary star in the making. Benjamin Law invites readers into the world of his endearing yet profoundly eccentric family. He constructs brilliantly turned essays in the style of David Sedaris, assembling a portrait that is both universal and utterly particular.
Why won't his Chinese dad wear made-in-China underpants? Why was most of his extended family deported in the 1980s? Will Benjamin's childhood dreams of Home and Away stardom come to nothing? What are his chances of finding love? Read one of these stories and you will inevitably want to read more.
Benjamin Law is a Brisbane-based freelance writer. He is a senior contributor to frankie magazine, and his work has also appeared in The Monthly, Qweekend, Sunday Life, The Big Issue, New Matilda and The Courier Mail.
His essays have been anthologised in Growing Up Asian in Australia (edited by Alice Pung), The Best Australian Essays 2008 (edited by David Marr) and The Best Australian Essays 2009 (edited by Robyn Davidson).
The Family Law (2010) is his debut book, and is published by Black Inc. Books
Follow Benjamin on Twitter @mrbenjaminlaw