Behind the Painting and Other Stories By Siburapha 1954, translated by David Smyth
Siburapha's most famous novel now in English
Siburapha, (real name Kulap Saipradit, 1905 - 1974), was a popular and accomplished writer of romantic novels in the late 1920's. His later work tackled the themes of social injustice and inequality. Imprisoned from 1952 to 1957, Siburapha subsequently sought asylum in China, where he remained the rest of his life.
This volume brings together Siburapha's most highly acclaimed novel, Behind the Painting, with three short stories highlighting the plight of the underclass: Those kind of People, Lend us a Hand and The Awakening.
Behind the Painting is the story of Nopphon, a Thai student studying in Japan, who becomes infatuated with the lovely Mom Rachawong Kirati, an older Thai woman visiting the country with her husband. Their intimacy grows, and by the time the older couple returns to Thailand, Nopphon can barely contain his feelings for her. The novel reflects postwar Thai society in the vanity of the aristocracy and the pragmatism of the new elite; in the social more of concealing one's true feelings; and in the restricted existence of unmarried women and the resulting pressure to marry, whatever the circumstances. Paralleling these Thai cultural themes are the universal themes of the fear of aging and the vagaries of love.
From the introduction by the translator, David Smyth -
"Behind the Painting is widely regarded as one of the best-written novels in the Thai language. ... it has been reprinted on almost forty occasions, with the total number of copies printed over the years being close to one hundred thousand."
Chiang Mai 2000