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Words Without Borders “stands as a monument to international collaboration and a shared belief in artistic possibility.”
— 2018 Whiting Literary Magazine Prize Citation

November 2016

Modernization and Its Discontents: Contemporary Thai Writing

Image: Pinaree Sanpitak, Image: Big Blue, 2007, acrylic modeling paste and dried flowers on canvas 63 x 87 in. (160 x 220 cm). Courtesy of Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

This month we bring you prose and poetry from Thailand, a country mourning its beloved king while grappling with accelerated development. From the teeming chaos of Bangkok to the deceptive serenity of the provinces, from temples to traffic jams, the writing here delivers a nuanced portrait of Thai culture and society. Win Lyovarin’s exasperated working man offers a mordant vocabulary lesson for urbanites. Poet Phu Kradat gives voice to the people of rural Isan. Chart Korbjitti’s monks in training haven’t a prayer, and Uthis Haemamool’s amnesiac temple worker recognizes the false side of true belief. At the poles of responsible parenting, Sri Daoruang’s heartsick mother treasures her sickly son, while Duanwad Pimwana’s battling couple abandon their boy to the neighborhood. Prabda Yoon’s sage passes judgment from a park bench. Guest editor Mui Poopoksakul talks with the revered editor and “encyclopedia of Thai literature” Suchart Sawasdsri and provides an illuminating introduction. Elsewhere, we present a group of interwar avant-garde visual poems selected and introduced by Meghan Forbes.

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Book Reviews

“Land of Love and Ruins” by Oddný Eir

Reviewed by Gordon Slater

In seeking to create personal ecology, Eir confronts the necessity of large social change.

“The Midwife” by Katja Kettu

Reviewed by Gordon Slater

A juxtaposition of brutal and tender moments evoking the stark and rapidly shifting paradoxes of a world at war.

“Frantumaglia” by Elena Ferrante

Reviewed by Carla Baricz

A difficult book raising important questions about the relationships between author, publisher, audience, and genre.

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