Novel set in Sri Lanka
Selected Short Stories Of Thailand
Genre(s): Short Stories
The stories in this selection, taken from William Peskett’s four collections, Mango and Sticky Rice, Mist on the Jungle, Sweet Song of the Siren and The Day of the Tiger, cover the different ways in which people look at how the world works, for example in the clash between a scientific approach and a traditionalist Buddhist mode of thought. And some deal with the impossible yearnings that can motivate or destroy a person. Sometimes these may be shallow—a lust for drink, for money or for sex—and the characters absurdly comic, self-destructive or psychopathic. Sometimes the yearning may be for a better life that is thwarted by others. Sometimes the outcome may be tragic. And sometimes the yearning can be lyrical and full of beauty, however unfulfilled. In a way, these stories examine many different aspects (not just that of intermarriage) of the various forms of love affair that spring up between Thailand, its people, its culture and its environment, and those who have come to know it. The stories are written with intimate, first-hand knowledge and an undeceived eye as well as warmth and humour. There are more than sixty million real people living in Thailand, and all the people in these stories, whether Western or Eastern, good or bad, ordinary, corrupt, foolish or insane (or, in one case, simian), are real too, with human motives and foibles, and are portrayed with understanding. Once one starts to look at individual cases stock situations become humanised and we can begin to see that there are comprehensible reasons for the decisions that individuals make. Peskett has always been interested in the natural world, but these stories show he takes the same intense pleasure in observing the people around him and in understanding their behaviour as thoroughly as any natural scientist would study his subject. Which is not to say that he looks through a microscope at specimens: there is no dissection taking place here. The author is describing a world of which he is very much a part, as one or two of the stories make explicit, and it is a world he is committed to, and finds amusing and delightful, quirky and strange, but also familiar. This strange new world, with its idiosyncrasies, is inhabited by recognizable, fallible human beings who are portrayed affectionately and with tolerance.
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