18 November 2010

Chart Korbjitti, Carrion Floating By, 1987

You’re driving at night and fall asleep at the wheel, triggering a car crash: in Thailand, this makes you fair game for everyone else involved who will claim compensation for injuries, damage and loss of income, and the cost to you now has to be negotiated and bargained. You’re now carrion for the vultures who all want a piece of you, but when you happen to work in advertising, doesn’t this then become tit-for-tat? This is a dryly amusing book and mildly satirical even though it’s deliberately light on laughs. Told throughout in the second person, Korbjitti intended the narrator’s gender to be undetermined but this somehow became lost in translation from Thai to English, with the reader, at key points, necessarily being provided with a male narrator; otherwise, barring a few minor errors in English this is a translation that reads very fluently. I’m getting to understand Korbjitti’s point of view: he’s uncompromisingly socialist, and his books that I’ve read so far have been well-observed and unremittingly mundane in subject matter, yet with an emotional impact reserved for the closing scenes that has so far never failed to hit the mark.  PY


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