The autobiographical debut Me, Her, Us by Yen-Rong Wong – winner of the Glendower Award for an Emerging Queensland Writer in 2022, and a theatre reviewer for this paper – lays bare the most intimate aspects of her journey to self-discovery. Through a collection of carefully curated essays, she comes to terms with her relationship with sex as well as her identity as a “Chinese-presenting woman”.
The book is separated into three parts: “me”, a series of personal experiences investigating pleasure and shame; “her”, where she delves into her childhood and her relationship with her mother; and “us”, a broader analysis of how the Asian diaspora is fetishised by Western society. This segmentation of the book provides a linear extrapolation from the micro to the macro, contextualising the many influences that have led to her awakening and brazen defiance.
Wong’s candour is refreshing, as she braves the conservatism of her family and community to publish an authentic account of her life. Her realisations range from the wholesome, as she reflects wryly on how she “learnt about orgasms from a crime novel”, to personal disclosures, such as a private Instagram account dedicated to kink.
The art critic within comes to the fore as Wong employs visual art, film and literature to weave shrewd observations. American conceptual artist Sophia Wallace’s artwork CLITERACY, 100 Natural Laws speaks to the stigmas associated with women’s genitalia and their collective desires. Michelle Yeoh’s Oscar-winning performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once sparks insights into the stubbornness that frays Wong’s fraught dynamic with her mother. Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha is used as a contemporary example of how Asian women have been objectified by the Western world and why writers such as Michelle Law are integral to reframing this perception for a new generation.
A vulnerability lingers throughout the book. The prose reads like thoughts that have been felt deeply but not articulated in public until this moment. This positions the reader as a confidant – a profound connection that enables you to devour Me, Her, Us.
Wong provides intelligent insights into how the world can open up when forging your own path. Family and culture are seen as aspects that can both enrich and stifle your life and sense of self. Though the conclusion feels a little trite, it doesn’t detract from the book’s memoir-style authenticity. Wong is a fine addition to the slew of up-and-coming Asian voices in Australia.
UQP, 272pp, $32.99
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on September 23, 2023 as "Me, Her, Us".
This month marks 10 years since the first edition of The Saturday Paper. The paper is as audacious now as it was then: a rejection of conventional wisdom about what makes the news and who will read it.
To celebrate those 10 years - and the issue-defining journalism produced in them - we are offering all new subscribers a two-year digital subscription for the price of one. That's $298 worth of journalism for $109.
Get more of the best journalism in the country - and celebrate the success of a newspaper built on optimism.
Select your digital subscription
Purchase this book
Me, Her, UsBUY NOW
When you purchase a book through this link, Schwartz Media earns a commission. This commission does not influence our criticism, which is entirely independent.