Pira Sudham

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The Force of Karma
By Pira Sudham

Pira Sudham - The Force of Karma

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.

Monsoon Country
By Pira Sudham

Pira Sudham - Monsoon Country

Pira Sudham's novel, Monsoon Country, is set in Thailand, England and Germany to convey the cultural tension between the East and the West, the clashes between the new powers and the old values covering the span of 25 years of the socio-economic and political changes occurring in Thailand.

The novel gives, as no other fiction on Thailand has yet done, insights into Thai life, particularly that of rural Thailand.

Foreign writers writing about the Thai people look at Thailand from the 'outside, but Pira Sudham writes about his people and country as seen from the 'inside'. This is one of the things that makes them so fascinating.

'Pira Sudham is the kind of writer who is invaluable to a country like Thailand. He is someone who believes in development but not revolution, social justice but not communism, and who has learnt that not all the westernization in the world can take from a good man his responsibility to his own people'. South China Morning Post.

'Of the very few Thai authors writing in English today, Pira Sudham is one of the most promising and eloquent'. Asiaweek.

Pira Sudham - Monsoon Country

Fresh look at a clash of cultures

This is a full-length novel, written in English by Pira Sudham, a Thai born of peasant parents in Thailand's underprivileged northeast.

Throughout Monsoon Country, the fundamental contradiction between traditional Thai sanctities and the more callous, if more sophisticated, life in the West is his invariable theme.

Prem Surin, the scholarship boy, installed in a luxury Hyde Park flat, in London, with a wealthy expatriate Thai, cannot in his heart dissociate himself from the smell of the buffalo he rode as a child or forget the death of a friend who tried to challenge the glaring cruelties and injustices of Thai society in the early 1970s.

The novel is full of insights into Thai life the English reader will be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

The great plain of the northeast is lovingly invoked, but it is also shown as a place where the village headman systematically steals relief donated by international charities, where the rice farmers are annually swindled by the small-town merchants and where marriages by proxy are common.

The book is constructed in a series of scenes so that the end result is like a stage drama covering a long span of history. The advantage of the method is that the various stages of the hero's evolution are presented in vivid detail, without the book having to be inordinately long.

The virtue of Monsoon Country is not that it offers solutions, either to the tensions within Thai society or to those set up in the talented individual everywhere when East meets West, but that describes these situations and describes them feelingly.

Bradley Winterton

Pira Sudham - Monsoon Country

Pira Sudham, author of 'Siamese Drama' and 'People of Esarn' was born in a small remote village in northeast Thailand. He spent his early years in the rice fields helping his parents and tending a herd of water buffaloes. 'Our lives are subject to the mercy of nature: floods, drought, disease, and scarcity. With endurance, we accept our fate as something we cannot go against. I know the good-heartedness, the hospitality and illiteracy of our people as well as the selfishness and corruption. I know the arrogance of shop-keepers, the middlemen, and the ignorance of the peasants. What I saw and learned in childhood touched me deeply,' he said.
At the age of fourteen, Pira Sudham came to Bangkok where he went through high school and later university. His thirst for higher studies won him a scholarship to a university in New Zealand where his first short story was published by Landfall, a literary quarterly.
Encouraged by Charles Brasch, editor of Landfall, Pira Sudham wrote several stories for the magazine and other publications in the USA, Australia, Hong Kong, and in Thailand. These published stories were reprinted in 1983 in a popular collection entitled 'Siamese Drama' with a second edition following in the same year. In 1987, his second book, 'People of Esarn' appeared.
He has lived for over ten years in Hong Kong, Australia and in England, where he wrote his novel, 'Monsoon Country'.
He is now living in Thailand, dividing his time between a working life in Bangkok and a village life in the district of Napo, where he was born.

Pira Sudham - Monsoon Country Pira Sudham - Monsoon Country

'I return to my home village to record what I remember and what I see, to keep a chronology of change, to identify agents of change. There are times when it is a joy to totally merge and join in festive mood, to mingle with villagers and to see for oneself that happiness is possible to attain from simple things. There is not yet any outcry of discontent. However, I view with mixed feelings when words like 'strike', 'protest' and 'exploitation' once unheard in villages, now being used by the mass media, creep into our minds like dark agents of change. I ask myself: How long will the village way of life and placidity, which I have known since childhood, last? Would I, one day, become an instrument of change?'
Pira Sudham

Pira Sudham - Monsoon Country A Nomination for Nobel Prize for Literature

Pira Sudham, author of 'Monsoon Country', Siamese Drama', and 'People of Esarn', has been nominated for the 1989 Nobel Prize for literature. Renowned for his literary works in the English language, Mr. Sudham was chosen as a nominee for the Nobel Prize for the quality and subject matter of his writing, the contribution his works have made to enabling non-Thais to understand the life and soul of rural Thai people in a most human and touching way, and his own character with his personal determination to realize his fullest potential without rejecting his humble origins.

Born in to a rice-farming family in an impoverished, rural northeastern Thai province bordering Kampuchea, Mr. Sudham made his way to Bangkok at the age of 14 and lived as a layperson, an acolyte, in a Buddhist temple. With remarkable fortitude and perseverance, he was able to overcome a limited provincial educational background. While studying in the second year of the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok, he won a Colombo Plan Scholarship to study English literature in a New Zealand university. This led to a 12 year odyssey during which Mr. Sudham also lived in Hong Kong, Australia and in England.

In nominating Mr. Pira Sudham for the Nobel Prize for literature a group of Thailand's prominent scholars headed by Professor Dr. Chai-anan Samudavanija, member of the Royal Institute and Director of Institute of Public Policy Studies stated: 'We commend him and his literary works to this Svenska Akademien for consideration as a distinguished example of how the human spirit can triumph over circumstance and express itself through the art of literature for the enhancement of mutual understanding and appreciation among peoples.'

World Press Lauds Thai Author

Pira Sudham - Monsoon Country Thai writer, Pira Sudham, the English-language author of 'People of Esarn', 'Siamese Drama', and 'Monsoon Country', has been widely acclaimed by the international Press in Asia and Europe for his writings, which give insights into Thai mentality, attitudes, and life, particularly in rural Thailand.

South China Morning Post, the leading English newspaper in Hong Kong claimed: 'Pira Sudham is the kind of writer who is invaluable to a country like Thailand. He is someone who believes in development but not in revolution, social justice but not communism, and who has learnt that not all the westernization in the world can take from a good man his responsibility to its own people.'

In reviewing Pira's novel, 'Monsoon Country', the Hong Kong-based weekly magazine, Asiaweek, said: 'Of the very few Thai authors writing in English today, Pira Sudham is one of the most promising an eloquent.'

In Europe, Neue Zercher Zeitung, the leading newspaper in Switzerland, cited Pira as the leading modem writer of Thailand writing in the English language for international readers.

Pira's books have been widely read worldwide and they are available in Hong Kong, UK and the USA, as well as in Thailand.

Since its publication early this year, 'Monsoon Country' has sold over 3,000 copies and its second edition and a hardcover edition will be published in October.

Over 8,000 copies of 'People of Esarn' has been sold since its publication in 1987, and the author also enjoys the popularity of his first book, 'Siamese Drama' which has entered into its fourth edition this year, since its publication in 1983.

Born in 1942, in a small remote village in Esarn, Northeast Thailand, Pira spent his early years in the rice fields, helping his parents and tending a herd of water buffaloes. 'Our lives there are subject to ignorance, superstition, and the mercy of nature: drought, floods, disease and scarcity. With endurance, we tend to accept our fate as something we cannot alter, believing that each of us suffers our own 'karma', for the deeds we committed in our previous lives,' said the author.

He left his vintage when he was fourteen for Bangkok to study in a high school, staying in a Buddhist temple. Later he entered the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University before winning a Colombo Plan Scholarship to study English literature in Victoria University, New Zealand. His first short story, 'Towards the Unknown Region, was published by Landfall, a New Zealand literary magazine in 1964. Since then his literary works have appeared in Australia, the USA, Hong Kong, and in Thailand.

Writing originally in English for a worldwide readership, Pira views his writings as a force in emerging from the grass roots, from the poor of Thailand who had no voice before. 'Now the emergence of peasants has happened at last. Previously, Thai writers churned out polite novels about the same old love-hate-revenge themes, and Barbara Cartland-type romances. As opposed to these writers, I want to project beauty in simple things, the life of peasants -- their plight and their thoughts, their happiness and tragedy. Thirty years ago, to write about these themes and subject matters was unthought-of,' he said.

As a writer he spent three years in England and two years in Hong Kong where he competed his novel, 'Monsoon Country'. He now lives in Thailand, dividing his time between a working life in Bangkok and a village life in Napo, in a district where he was born.

Business Review October 1, 1988

People of Esarn
By Pira Sudham

Pira Sudham - People of Esarn

Pira Sudham brings into the light the lives of some of the ordinary people who live in obscurity in remote villages. With the skill and craftsmanship of a sensitive writer, he conveys the inner voices of his subjects regardless of how illiterate, timid and insignificant they seem in their daily lives. Their simplicity and sensitivity come through his direct and clear prose, yet moving and touching. He writes with understanding and compassion for his people.

Foreign writers writing about the Thai people look at Thailand from the 'outside', but Pira Sudham writes about his people and country as seen from the 'inside'. This is one of the things that makes them so fascinating.

Tales of Thailand
By Pira Sudham

Pira Sudham - Tales of Thailand

A collection of short stories, most from his first collection, Siamese Drama, published in 1983 plus two new stories. The stories deal with modern rural life in Thailand and the changes and problems occurring there.

Siamese Drama is Pira Sudham's collection of remarkably moving tales of the socio-economic changes occurring in Thailand, of cultural tensions between the East and the West, and of clashes between the new powers and the old values.

Here, an outstanding Thai writer presents an insight into Thai life, particularly that of rural Thailand.

From the story 'The Gunman' - I knew from a newspaper that he was a teacher, and that morning when I shot him, he was on his way from his house to lead a protest against the leasing of a rain forest from the Department of Forestry by the wife of a powerful and wealthy politician. But I did not know for sure who wanted him dead. A hired gunman is not hired directly by the people who want their enemies killed;

An Englishman's Siamese Journals 1890-1893

The journals are reprinted full and unabridged from 'Report of a Survey in Siam', published anonymously in London, in 1895 for private circulation. 284 pages, with illustrations.

On December 1, 1890 an English surveyor led an expedition on a small steamer up the Chao Phraya River, heading for northern Siam.

It was a fascinating journey into the valleys and hills of the North where dacoits, marauders, rebels and Haw warriors had caused so much devastation and death, and where a colonial encroachment was imminent.

Despite threats of assassination, the death of his colleagues who had fallen into the hands of assassins, fever, heavy rainfall, dense jungle and wild animals, and the disappearance of bearers, he determined to complete the assignment -- his last and longest survey which took almost three years.

His journals covering 1890-1893 are rare moving accounts of the lands, tribal communities, their plight and legends, and of some engaging individuals whom he met.

A keen observer, he also wrote with poetic qualities, and a lively sense of humor, and at times, he allowed himself some skeptical comments, from all of which, when times have healed most wounds, we can derive much pleasure.


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