by Hannah Beach
Bangkok Wakes To Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad
The Blind Earthworm In The Labyrinth by Veeraporn Nitiprapha
In 2010, my husband and I left our young children sleeping at home in Bangkok and went out to cover what we feared would be a massacre. In front of us, in the hazy heat of May, a military sniper shot a street protester. Armored personnel carriers rumbled toward us from different directions, trapping protesters in a pincer motion.
A block away from the killing, street vendors were selling coconut ice cream. At least 90 people died in the security forces’ assault on protesters that spring, including two medics, an Italian photographer and a soldier struck by friendly fire. When we got home, our boys were still napping. To this day, no one has been held accountable for the deaths nine years ago.
For all its memorable brashness — the chili-laced cuisine, the vicious heat, the excess of tropical botany — Thailand excels in forgetting, a deliberate amnesia that makes history turn, if not in circles at least in cul-de-sacs. Two novels from Thai-born authors, “Bangkok Wakes to Rain,” by Pitchaya Sudbanthad, and “The Blind Earthworm in the Labyrinth,” by Veeraporn Nitiprapha, examine these hidden, overlooked spaces, where ghosts and spirits and discarded dreams orbit, even as people try to outpace the past. “So much,” Pitchaya writes, “had been lost or erased from the books.”…
Image courtesy of River Books
April 04, 2019