15 October 2009

Sabai Muang, The Call of the Midnight Hour, 1993

Sabai Muang is one of the many pseudonyms of the Thai author Sukanya Cholasueks, and The Call of the Midnight Hour is one of five novels she wrote on each of the Five Precepts of Buddhism. The Third Precept here is that of abstaining from sexual misconduct and is the story of Phatta, who abducts another man’s wife and suffers the consequences but also obtains a rather unusual redemption. Set in India at the time of the birth of Buddhism, Muang’s story has supernatural elements which muddy the waters of what is otherwise a very clear storyline, and towards the end it splits into two threads that separate what is going on with Phatta’s soul in the spiritual world and what is happening with his body in the real world, but these are blurred in such a way that it may become difficult to tell what was happening where, and with whom. If the other four short novels are also published in English they will probably be worth reading as well as this was well written, even if I felt at times that it was either too straightforward in places or a little too abstract.  PY


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