Letters from Thailandby Botan
Translated by Susan Fulop Kepner
When the original Thai version of Letters from Thailand appeared in Bangkok in 1969, it was promptly awarded the SEATO Prize for Thai Literature. Thirteen years later, it was translated into English to reach a much wider readership. Today, the book is still considered one of Thailand’s most entertaining and enduring modern novels, and one of the few portrayals of the immigrant Chinese experience in urban Thailand.
Letters from Thailand is the story of Tan Suang U, a young man who leaves China to make his fortune in Thailand at the close of World War II, and ends up marrying, raising a family, and operating a successful business. The novel unfolds through his letters to his beloved mother in China.
In Tan Suang U’s lively account of his daily life in Bangkok’s bustling Chinatown, larger and deeper themes emerge: his determination to succeed at business in this strange new culture; his hopes for his family; his resentment at how easily his children embrace urban Thai culture at the expense of the Chinese heritage which he holds dear; his inability to understand or adopt Thai ways; and his growing alienation from a society that is changing too fast for him.
About the author
(pseud. Supa Sirising) is a native of Bangkok, born of Chinese parents. She was recoginzed as a National Artist in 1999 and has published more than ten novels.
Susan Fulop Kepner has been translating Thai literature for more than thirty years. Her works included A Child of the Northeast, by Kampoon Boontawee, and the anthology, The Lioness in Bloom.