People of Esarn by Pira Sudham
2007 New Edition - Includes The Damned of Thailand and The Kingdom in Conflicts
Short stories and essays on some of the major issues facing Thailand; child prostitution, the rape of the forests, the killing of rural activists and dying rivers and soil in the North-East.
From the story "A Thai Woman in Germany" -
I remember you. It was in Pattaya in 1977, when you saw me for the first time at the Holiday Inn where you used to work as a manger. Maybe you wouldn't recall that it was me whom you stopped in front of the lift one night when were on duty. You tried to prevent me from going up to the room with a farang, asking him to register me first before he could take me to his room. You tried to explain to him so politely that it was a hotel regulation for the security of guests. And for such a registration, you asked him to pay 350 Baht extra. I remember also that all that while, you pretended you did not care who I was. You ignored me quite completely, but I could guess what you were thinking: "The farang is taking this whore up to his room. Boy, doesn't she look it. When you have seen one, you have seen them them all in Pattaya."
Bangkok 2007 revised and expanded edition
A true voice from Esarn
If you wish to understand Thailand's poor North-East region, Esarn, you should read the novels and short stories by Pira Sudham. Considered Thailand's leading English language writer, he was nominated for the 1990 Nobel prize for literature.
Born to poor farming family in Napo, Burirum province, in 1942, Pira traveled to Bangkok to become a temple boy, a servant to the monks, at the age of 14. He continued to study and won entrance to Thailand's top university, Chulalongkorn.
A New Zealand government scholarship started 12 years of travel from New Zealand, to Australian, Hong Kong and Europe. He never forgot the Esarn, with its' poverty and injustices and these became the background for his short stories and novels.
He now divides his time between England and Thailand's North-East where he runs a number of projects to help his fellow villagers.
Pira Sudham's own words -
"If I had not left my village then, I would have been subject, like most villagers, to the mercy of nature: floods, drought, disease, ignorance and scarcity. With endurance, I would have accepted them as my own fate, as something I cannot go against in this life."
Asked why he writes, he replies: "In my mind I carry memories of childhood, of life in villages, much as a pregnant woman carrying a child. Every day these images grow, and I know that one day I shall have to give birth to them through the medium of writing. Besides, I don't want people in our villages, so far removed from other peoples because of distance and poverty, to be born, suffer and to die in vain."
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