When the original Thai version of Letters from Thailand appeared in Bangkok in 1969, it was promptly awarded the SEATO Prize for Thai Literature. Thirteen years later, it was translated into English to reach a much wider readership. Today, the book is still considered one of Thailand’s most entertaining and enduring modern novels, and one of the few portrayals of the immigrant Chinese experience in urban Thailand. Letters from Thailand is the story of Tan Suang U, a young man who leaves China to make his fortune in Thailand at the close of World War II, and ends up marrying, raising a family, and operating a successful business. The novel unfolds through his letters to his beloved mother in China. In Tan Suang U’s lively account of his daily life in Bangkok’s bustling Chiantown, larger and deeper themes emerge: his determination to succeed at business in this strange new culture; his hopes for his family; his resentment at how easily his children embrace urban Thai culture at the expense of the Chinese heritage which he holds dear; his inability to understand or adopt Thai ways; and his growing alienation from a society that is changing too fast for him.
Thailand's prisons are infamous, and survival when inside is often difficult even for the young and healthy. Young people go into Thai prisons and if lucky, come out old. Old people are usually not so lucky and come out in a wooden box. What would happen if, for some unlucky twist of fate, already in one's elderly years, and through no fault of one's own, one woke up one day in a Thai jail? Usually when foreigners face Thai jail, it is for only one reason - Drugs. Incredibly, this book has nothing to do with drugs. This crime is far less controversial, but the impact had the same result. This crime being a mere family argument that went far too far. Many people have disagreements within their family circle, and in the West, it usually goes no farther than the front door, but Thailand can be different. On this occurrence the result of the family argument went as far as the local provincial prison, and that's where it stayed for a two year sentence That is exactly what happened to Henry.
Kepner's selection shows the many ways fiction has mirrored the lives of Thai women over the twentieth century. The spectrum is broad, encompassing the young and the old, the rural and the cosmopolitan, the privileged and the poor. Some writers address previously unacceptable themes: female sexuality, spousal abuse, gender oppression. Others display a scintillating sense of humor. They touch on many themes—injustice, the heartlessness of society, loneliness, the difficult choices that life presents. Susan Kepner's lyrical, faithful translations preserve the tenor and resonances of these voices, many of which will be heard for the first time by English-speaking readers.
Uncle Go’s Advice Columns for Gays, Lesbians and Kathoeys
Author: Peter A. Jackson
Publisher: Hong Kong University Press
Category: Social Science
This is a fully revised and substantially expanded edition of Peter Jackson’s highly regarded pioneering study of an Asian gay culture, Male Homosexuality in Thailand (1989). The hero of Jackson’s fascinating narrative is “Uncle Go”, which was the pen name of a popular magazine editor who, despite being avowedly heterosexual, was tolerant of all sexual practices and whose “agony uncle” columns in the 1970s provided unique spaces in the national press for Thailand’s gays, lesbians and transgenders (kathoeys) to speak for themselves in the public domain. By allowing the voices of alternative sexualities to be heard, Uncle Go emerged as Thailand’s first champion of gender equality and sexual rights. Peter Jackson translates and analyses selected correspondence published in Uncle Go’s advice columns, preserving and presenting important primary sources. In this new edition, Jackson has expanded his coverage to include not only letters from Thai gay men, but also those from lesbians and transgenders, thus capturing the full diversity of Thailand’s modern queer cultures at a key moment in their historical development when new understandings of sexual identities were first communicated to the wider community. “How wonderful to see this classic volume printed in a new expanded edition for the 21st century! When first published the figure of Uncle Go became an instant and unique voice in Thai sexuality studies. Peter Jackson’s contributions here are huge and foundational.” —Gilbert Herdt, San Francisco State University “If Thailand is now well known for its unique milieu of sex and gender diversity, it is in large part due to Peter Jackson’s writings. First Queer Voices from Thailand offers a rare archive of non-normative sexualities invaluable for anyone wishing to understand sexual modernity outside of the West.” —Ara Wilson, Duke University “An amazing work. Most valuable for this new edition is perhaps the way in which it documents changes in Jackson’s thinking, and in the field of sexuality studies, over the last twenty years, in response to the methodological challenges of queer and transgender scholarship.” —Susan Stryker, University of Arizona