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.
Nationalism and identity in modern Thai literature
Author: Thak Chaloemtiarana
Publisher: ANU Press
Category: Literary Criticism
This book introduces readers to modern Thai literature through the themes of modernity, nationalism, identity and gender. In the cultural, political and social transformations that occurred in Thailand during the first half of the twentieth century, Thai literature was one of the vehicles that moved the changes. Taking seriously ‘read till it shatters’, a Thai phrase that instructs readers to take apart the text, to break it down, to deconstruct it, Thak Chaloemtiarana challenges the Thai literary canon from the margins and suggests ways of expanding and enriching it. Thai literature is scarce in translation and requires the skills of a scholar fluent in Thai to comprehend it. Thak is a political scientist turned literary scholar who is bilingual in Thai and English and an avid reader of Thai fiction by authors up and down the social scale. Here he offers lively insights into his favourite literary genres with fresh readings of early Thai novels, Sino-Thai biographies and memoirs of the rich and famous. ‘Thak Chaloemtiarana is an inquisitive man. Late in his career he switched from politics to literature. In these chapters, he draws on a lifetime of reading about writers and writing in Thailand over the past century. He nods towards the usual big names—King Vajiravudh, Luang Wichit, Kulap Saipradit, Kukrit Pramoj—but spends more time on those found in the lesser visited stacks of the libraries, the secondhand bookstalls, and the shelf by the supermarket checkout. His themes are familiar—Thailand and the West, Thai nationalism, the Thai-Chinese, and women under patriarchy—but the angles of vision are original. With a cast ranging from motor-racing princes through sexy Egyptian mummies and a feminist serial murderer to starlets touting breast-enhancement techniques, this book educates, enlightens, and entertains.’
Globalization and increased migration have brought both new opportunities and new tensions to traditional East Asian societies. Multicultural Challenges and Redefining Identity in East Asia draws together a wide range of distinguished local scholars to discuss multiculturalism and the changing nature of social identity in East Asia. Regional specialists review specific events and situations in China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines to provide a focus on life as it is lived at the local level whilst also tracing macro discourses on the national issues affected by multiculturalism and identity. The contributors look at the uneven multicultural development across these different countries and how to bridge the gap between locality and universality. They examine how ethnic majorities and minorities can achieve individual rights, exert civic responsibility, and explain how to construct a deliberative framework to make sustainable democracy possible. This book considers the emergence of a new cross-national network designed to address multicultural challenges and imagines an East Asian community with shared values of individual dignity and multicultural diversity. With strong empirical support it puts forward a regulative ideal by which a new paradigm for multicultural coexistence and regional cooperation can be realized.
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
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.
For a full list of entries and contributors, sample entries, and more, visit the Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women website. Featuring comprehensive global coverage of women's issues and concerns, from violence and sexuality to feminist theory, the Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women brings the field into the new millennium. In over 900 signed A-Z entries from US and Europe, Asia, the Americas, Oceania, and the Middle East, the women who pioneered the field from its inception collaborate with the new scholars who are shaping the future of women's studies to create the new standard work for anyone who needs information on women-related subjects.