The Force of Karma
A new novel by Pira Sudham
Thailand's leading English language writer
The long-awaited sequel to Pira Sudham's Nobel Prize nominated novel "Monsoon Country"
In churning childhood memories into a captivating recollection of the lives of the Surins in impoverished Esarn, in Monsoon Country (1954-1981), Pira Sudham did not stray far from the realities. Being much concerned with rampant corruption, he could no longer hide under the cloak of a public relations consultant in Bangkok when the saga has to cover the tumultuous years of 1981-2001 in The Force of Karma. Hence he decided to take Goliath and Company into the cauldron.
Perceiving at close quarters a corruptive force and cancerous rot, he projects: A tree, rotten at the core, falls of its own accord. The crash of July 1997 is merely a rash. The fall is yet to come.
In the process, the life of an Esarn pauper, Prem 'Primo' Surin fatefully entwines with those of the bibulous billionaire, Dani 'Danny' Pilakol, the winsome University of London graduate Elizabeth 'Lizzie' Durham, the grandee of the old school art dealer Charles Tregonning, the versatile hotelier Karl Michael 'Micky' Wittenberg, the ambitious Major General Ayumongkol 'Ayu' Mongkolkulthorn and the famous opera singer-composer-conductor Wilhelm ' Willie' Hagenbach in Siam, England and Germany. Their fellowship, the Operation Norma, the inheritance and the force of destiny have been intricately woven. Monsoon Country and its sequel, The Force of Karma have become a most riveting and provocative saga out of the insurgency suppression in the seventies, the 1997 economic fiasco and the killing fields (the massacres in October 1973, October 1976 and May 1992) in Thailand.
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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