Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tales of Thailand by Pira Sudham

genre: short stories
book 9 of 10 for the Orbis Terrarum Challenge 09

Tales of Thailand is a collection of short stories that can give readers a varied and harshly realistic view of life in this country of extremes, where a belief in "karma" can make even the humblest farmer accept his lot in life with patience.

The author comes to these stories from personal experience, having grown up in the rice fields of Esarn, the poorest region of Thailand. And while I sometimes felt that the writing only scratched the surface of the emotions involved in the plot, I still feel like I have a greater understanding of the struggles, so qualitatively different than my own, that so many have had to endure.

We read of concubines and prostitutes, monks and soldiers, beggars and millionaires. There are land disputes, financial crises, prisoners of war and pleasure cruises. We travel from Bangkok to tiny rural villages. Bluntly illustrated is the disparity between those who have and those who have non and no one seems able to fine true happiness while their belief in karma makes them feel as though they don't even necessarily deserve it.

Despite the bleakness of the tales (it's not easy reading about young children being sold into slavery to pimps), I really did get a sense that Sudham wants to find hope in the hard places. He wants the story of these forgotten people to be told. I certainly know more now about modern Thai history. For those who want a look at a more raw and unforgiving Thailand, this book is worth trying to find.

1 comment:

Veens said...

Well, reading that kind of book can never be easy!
Good review, i will definitely look for this one here.

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