Dinner on Monster Island: Essays (Paperback)
In this unusual, engaging, and intimate collection of personal essays, Lambda Literary Award finalist Tania De Rozario recalls growing up as a queer, brown, fat girl in Singapore, blending memoir with elements of history, pop culture, horror films, and current events to explore the nature of monsters and what it means to be different.
Tania De Rozario was just twelve years old when she was gay-exorcised. Convinced that her boyish style and demeanor were a sign of something wicked, her mother and a pair of her church friends tried to “banish the evil” from Tania. That day, the young girl realized that monsters weren’t just found in horror tales. They could lurk anywhere—including your own family and community—and look just like you.
Dinner on Monster Island is Tania’s memoir of her life and childhood in Singapore—where she discovered how difference is often perceived as deviant, damaged, disobedient, and sometimes, demonic. As she pulls back the veil on life on the small island, she reveals the sometimes kind, sometimes monstrous side of all of us. Intertwined with her experiences is an analysis of the role of women in horror. Tania looks at films and popular culture such as Carrie, The Witch, and The Ring to illuminate the ways in which women are often portrayed as monsters, and how in real life, monsters are not what we think.
Moving and lyrical, written with earnest candor, and leavened with moments of humor and optimism, Dinner on Monster Island is a deeply personal examination of one woman’s experience grappling with her identity and a fantastic analysis of monsters, monstrous women and the worlds in which they live.
Tania De Rozario is a writer and visual artist. She is the author of four books and is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Her work has won prizes from the New Ohio Review, The Comstock Review, and Singapore’s Golden Point Awards. Born in Singapore, she now lives and works on the traditional unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, colonially known as Vancouver, Canada.
A The Millions "Most Anticipated" —
"De Rozario transfixes with her idiosyncratic blend of film criticism, social critique, and autobiography. It’s a unique and touching account." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"With clear, precise language, Dinner on Monster Island is a taut and riveting collection. Despite being published by the American Harper Perennial, it isn’t U.S.-centric, which makes its viewpoint that much more refreshing." — Los Angeles Times
"A penetrating series of personal essays from a writer and visual artist....The weight of the author’s cultural criticism works to deepen the personal narrative, and the author ties those aspects together in a way that feels both natural and compelling. This simultaneously lucid and experimental text will appeal to those seeking a memoir that scratches a layer deeper than expected. Thematically and stylistically, this is a book with resonance." — Kirkus Reviews
"In Dinner on Monster Island, Tania De Rozario brilliantly exorcises the demons of her upbringing—an evangelical mother, homophobic policies and culturally pervasive fatphobia—using horror films as an outlet and metaphor for her estrangement. As a writer, De Rozario is searing, stirring, and soaring.”
— Kevin Chong, Author of The Double Life of Benson Yu.
"Dinner on Monster Island is a hidden gem of 2024 that you definitely won’t want to miss.' — Book Riot
"Tania feeds her queer readers an extravagant multi-course banquet of queer resilience, created joy, persistence, and self-becoming that you’ll want to both savor and devour."
— Sassafras Lowrey, Author of Lost Boi and Kicked Out
"Just like the horror stories at its core, Dinner on Monster Island is propulsive and hair-raising, its precisely evoked monsters all the more harrowing for being of our world. Yet Tania De Rozario doesn't falter as she cuts a path to becoming herself. She rises, the blood-soaked vanquisher, and she calls us all to let our rage set us free. This immensely moving story shows that art-making, making beauty, is resistance; it remakes us human." — Thea Lim, author of An Ocean of Minutes
“Tania De Rozario is both a perceptive commentator on culture and politics, and a moving archaeologist of her own past.… her work is poignant, thoughtful and curious.” — Alix Ohlin, author of Dual Citizens
"Unique in its melding of personal narrative, film criticism and social commentary, this collection of essays is as heartfelt and lyrical as it is sharp and searing. Tania De Rozario candidly shares her experiences growing up queer in Singapore among monsters both seen and unexpected."
— Ms. Magazine
"De Rozario’s collection of essays describes an excruciating yet necessary rite of passage through loss and transformation, a passage that is eloquently, vividly and often painfully recounted. Despite loss, there still is magic." — Cha Journal