3 June 2012

Tew Bunnag, Fragile Days, 2001

Nine stories that work well together as a cross-section of lives lived in Bangkok, from the poorest to the richest. These are less tales of status and stasis than stories of the different social strata intermixing and encountering each other, such as in ‘The Flower Girl’ in which a street orphan is adopted by a rich widow, or ‘Jeed Finds Her Brother’ in which a country girl finds out the truth about her missing brother’s life in Bangkok. These encounters inevitably leave the characters changed, yet somehow everyone at some point is a victim of the city itself, the Big Mango, for the better as often as for the worse. It’s hard to pick any story that stands out above the rest, although for characterisation the final story ‘Love Heals Tammy’ is the one that puts across best how Thais are prepared to look to the positive and be transformed by it. Bunnag also caps off the stories with a non-fiction epilogue titled ‘An Ode to the City’ in which he spells out his feelings on the ugliness of Bangkok itself, while declaring an undying admiration for the people who would dare to live in such a place. This is a lovely collection.  PY


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