19 February 2008

S.P. Somtow, Dragon’s Fin Soup, 2002

Theodore Sturgeon once called Somtow “One of the most gifted masters of colour and spectacle”, though reluctant about being labelled an ‘ethnic’ writer he long resisted writing creative fiction about Thailand. It was Fred Pohl who convinced him otherwise. Several stories in this collection of eight are notable: the truly excellent ‘The Bird Catcher’ won the World Fantasy Award for best short story, ‘Dragon’s Fin Soup’ has been optioned for a film by Japanese cult director Takashi Miike, and there is also the notably good virtual reality caper ‘The Last Time I Died in Venice’. For the most part Somtow’s preference for horror comes through as his strongest suit, and his cultural schizophrenia means he can effectively translate some distinctly Thai supernaturalities into some very well-written and crystal clear English. Recommended.  PY


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