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I just finished reading your book "Thai Girl" and having a Thai daughter in law myself I could very well relate and identify with your well expressed content of that mysterious culture. I have visited Bangkok a few times with my son, but unlike Ben I was surrounded with Thais and not farangs. On my next visit I intend to acquaint myself with the many farangs, yes, of all shapes and sizes that abound in this phenomenal city.
Now, having said the above, I have to take you to task on some of the
dialect you used. I have been away from England for many years and I am finding it difficult to believe that today's travelers from the old country(ies) still used the outmoded expressions such as "doss house" "prat", "pommy", "brilliant." I do know people from England of advanced age who still say "brill" or "brilliant: but I thought this was now a worn out expression such as "chilled out" which you have also used in your book. And of course, I know older Americans who still use that outmoded overworked expression, but really is it not true that these expressions usually have their time and are then discarded for the newer "in" version.
Please tell me that the Youth - the hope of our future - are really not submerged in this verbal time warp?????
Please, "Jumping Joe Jackson" Say it isn't true.
Looking forward to your comments on the above. And again, thank you for the insight, which only served to confirm what I sensed is the elusive corpus of Thai girls - beautiful creatures born to please farangs - and they do it so well.
Keep the good stories coming,
Sincere Best Wishes for 2007. Maybe see you in Thailand later this year.
Thanks so much for your very specific lit crit about colloquialisms in Thai Girl. I really appreciate it because it's the first I've had as readers usually focus on the wider themes.
You've hit on some interesting points and maybe you're right... maybe too it betrays my age! In fact I did work quite hard on the colloquialisms as a friend suggested to me that with so many characters taking part in some fairly static in-bar dialogues, it was important to create a distinctive voice for each of them. Some of the walk-on parts are not too significant and if as a result they took on an element of caricature, I wasn't too worried.
Fon was the key of course and I studied the argot of migrant workers who'd learned their English from tourists with alacrity. In fact much of her language usage is based on the construction of how she would say the same thing in Thai. Stuart, the Scot was easy, as was Clarissa, the knobby Brit. For Maca, I traveled throughout Australia listening hard and adding to the dictionary of Strine that I bought there. I made a list of expressions that I liked and ticked them off as Maca uttered them so that he didn't over-use any. I've met quite a few traveler and other Aussies who, in the presence of non-Aussies tend to assume a faux 'Crocodile Dundee' persona and take the piss, especially of a middle class pommie bastard like Ben. I must've been called a pommie a million times!
Jack Russell, the thinking man's sex tourist from Yorkshire had some language put in his mouth from a Yorkshire dialect I found on the web. Which I suppose leaves the problem of Chuck, Emma and Ben! As for Chuck, I've been amazed with younger Americans I've met, just how archaic their slang can be. I think of a lad I found myself walking with in the mountains of Cameron Highlands in Malaysia shortly before I wrote the book. It's bad news for you, Mary, but yes, everything was cool, chilled out and like crazy man. I kinda got a feelin' I was in some sorta time warp. He was twenty two!
My recent experience of young Brits is of my own kids who are contemporaries of Emma and Ben and of ten years lecturing to that age group at the green welly University of Exeter in the west of England. I've listened pretty hard and taken notes, and again you'd be amazed how reactionary their colloquialisms were. If 'brill' might be a bit naff, 'brilliant' was still current. I asked my son Mike to read a draft of the book with the dialogue particularly in mind and he did excise a few 'isms that were too dated, and he had a good laugh at my expense. But the ones you mention slipped past him.
What you say is probably right and I may have over-used my dialect palette, though I did want Ben to be a distinctly upper middle class lad from a slightly plummy background of private school privilege, precisely the sort Maca might take the piss of as a bloody pom. Emma's language is, I hope a bit more grounded in the present, with some of it pretty blunt and down to earth. I believe, from memory that a prat is a pregnant fish.
Well, thanks again and do get in touch when next in Thailand. It would be good if our paths could cross. I hope your son has read 'Thai Girl' and do pass it on to your friends, even if at risk of polluting their minds with some frightfully outdated colloquialisms!
I've recently read your book, 'Thai Girl' on holiday in Thailand. It brings tears of joy and
tears of laughter and how true it is to real life. Is there another book about your true life, of farang meeting Thai girl? And is your story based upon you and your Thai wife? I'd love to know. Anyway it's certainly a very good read. I do hope there's another book coming. I'm visiting Thailand again this year as I love the people and their culture.
Hoping to meet you one day.
It's great to hear that you enjoyed "Thai Girl'. Most of the readers who write to me seem to be men who find that the story reflects their own experiences, but as a strong theme of the book is what it's like to be a woman in Thailand, I hope there's something in it for everyone.
Of course authors always get asked if their story is autobiographical and they generally deny it! But no, in fact I met my Thai wife just at the time I was finishing the final draft of the book so it's not our story at all.
If a story of love and longing and loss is to be convincing, then it must to an extent be autobiographical… for the author to have experienced these emotions. However, in my case the story of Ben and Fon is not specifically my story, though of course I cannot deny falling in love with and in Thailand. Most of the characters in the book including Fon are based on real people I've met there and whose essence I distilled into my notebooks, but with regard to the prototype for Fon, Ben's experiences were ones that might have happened to me but never in fact did.
Some of my readers credit me with special insight into relationships between farang and Thais but really I deny any such as my experience is quite limited. The story of Ben and Fon, is simply the natural playfulness of a Thai woman, tempered by her suspicion of foreign men interacting with Ben's hormonal passion for an exotic and utterly beguiling woman. She's always saying come hither but she doesn't always mean it, nor even herself know if she means it. For the farang male, that's what makes a cross-cultural relationship so utterly, so intolerably exciting.
Do pass on the book to your friends, and hoping to see you in Thailand again.
I really enjoyed your book. Are you in the process of writing another one?
Thanks a million. It's funny how good it feels that somebody likes my book!
In fact I'm writing a book that I hope to call, 'My Thai and I', my Thai of course being my wife. It's about living out here in the back of beyond in the NE of Thailand and I've put some experimental pieces on www.thaigirl2004.blogspot.com. I'd love you to have a look at the blog which has gone down pretty well as the top hitting Thai-based blog listed on www.thailandvoice.com. The instant satisfaction of seeing one's blog and photos appear on the screen is amazing even if in fact nobody reads it at all.
All the best and please pass on the word about 'Thai Girl',
I found that your novel captured the complexities of the Thai-Farang relationships very well.
I originally avoided Thai Girl because I thought it was just another book about prostitutes, but it presented both sides with more depth than other books in the genre. It was a wise move to cast the main female character as a low-educated massage therapist, rather than some conniving stereotype.
You also tapped into the one element that is usually forgotten - the consequence and aftermath of the farang going back home. Most books about Thai-farang relationships fail to acknowledge the impact of the visiting tourist.
Also, thank you for leaving some parts ambiguous. It was a treat to not have it all spelled out in advance. While reading Thai Girl , you kept me wondering if the female character had hidden ulterior motives and if the male character was being sincere or naive. It made the ride of reading go much more smoothly when I didn't know where the path would lead.
Just got back to my home country (Denmark) after 2 months journey in Thailand and Malaysia, whereof I spent one month in Isaan, and like Ben, I also fell for a thai girl.
Your book taught me a lot about Thailand and Thai culture, it also helped me to understand my girlfriend better.
I borrowed the book from my friend, before we left for Koh Samet, where I then read most of Thai Girl. It was a strange, almost uncanny, feeling sitting right there on Koh Samet and reading what could almost be called my own story, because like Ben, of course I also had to leave my girl, and just get on the plane. And she also is from Isaan, and her parents are rice farmers, like so many other girls that foreigners meet I guess.
Although a few of the conversations seemed a bit unrealistic to me, I think Thai Girl is a straight forward and well written story and not only is the story engaging, but we also learn something from it, even though at first it might seem like a poolside read about some dull romance.
The next time I go to Thailand, which might be more or less permanently, I will bring a copy of Thai Girl and read it a second time, and hopefully a sequel or something similar.
All the best to you!
I have to say, I have never been so excited whilst reading a novel as I was 'Thaigirl". I read all of the book in only 4 days which was a complete surprise for me as it usually takes me months to finish one book.
I was hooked reading it. i could hardly wait to know what would become of Ben and Fon. I was finding it frustrating everytime Ben and Fon would get close, only to have something happen to divide them again.
The ending was also something that caused me to have great mixed emotions. I was disappointed with the ending at first. I think I was expecting some sort of fairytale ending between Ben and Fon. After having a bit of time afterwards to think about the book, i realised that the ending was actually the best way for this story to end.
I could just imagine how Fon would have been feeling, waiting for Ben, thinking of him everyday. Was the ending intended to make it end up just as a holiday romance for Ben? He did seem a lot more concerned about himself on getting back to England then what he was while on holiday.
I read some of the readers comments in the forum set up on the website. I must say I would like it so much to be able to have an open forum where we could all discuss the book with each other. There were quite a few comments that I would like to be able to discuss openly.
I have visited a few countries in South East Asia and I think your book is so spot on with the way I've experienced these countries as well. I too had a holiday romance while I was trekking through Philippines. It was great and quite possibly one of the happiest times of my life. Simply it was amazing.
While walking through Singapore airport on the trip home, I came across your book. It struck me straight away, as I share the same name and age group with the main character "Ben" which helped me in deciding to buy the book.
I too feel like Ben, in the way he felt about his relationship with Fon. I felt it improbable that I would see this girl again as it was just too hard for us to be together. Since being home I haven't been interested in anyone else and find that I feel now that maybe somehow I could make it work.
Anyway i didn't really want to tell you my story as you must hear quite a few stories from guy's saying that they have found love in the same way as Ben But I do want to say thank you for writing this book; it really did touch me and found its way into the sensitive side that I have and usually hide from the world.
I hope a scriptwriter picks up on your book and decides to make a screenplay from it. I really could see a movie made of this story and think maybe it would be a hit with some sort of cult following. I will again read this book soon as I would like to see if there was anything I didn't pick up on the first time.
Thank you Andrew for this inspiring novel which has touched me so and will remain proudly on my bookshelf until the day I die.
I just finished reading your book "Thai Girl." I pretty much read it in one gulp, as I could not put it down.
I spend every summer in Southeast or East Asia. Been to Thailand many times. You captured the essence of Thailand and its people, incredibly well, especially as to how farang might best be able to see them.
And, most importantly, yours is an honest account and characterization of how any farang man with a good heart and with good intentions (while myopic) will want to be a knight in shining armor and rescue at least one of the young girls of Thailand that are born into poverty, and who must do whatever they can to make ends meet, and yet are still able to maintain a giggly and positive outlook on life. But alas, the reality of farang heroics of this kind is going to be, pretty much inevitably, undermined by the stupid reality of a social divide.
If you don't mind a plea from a stranger: there can NOT be a sequel to this book, at least not one with a happy ending. The end to your book is truly where this story ends, which is sadly, for both Ben and Fon.
After reading "Thai Girl" I thought, "Well, this guy's been around Thailand for sure.'
Then going through the reader's comments I have to say that they pretty much capture my thoughts and feelings about the different characters. Although I have to say that I liked Jack Russell as one of the standouts.
I could not help thinking that he's a kind of mythological figure, a messenger, a guide of sorts on the path of Ben's life. (Jack Russell's are a breed of dog, as I'm sure you know). As an animal, man's best friend, and all that. I think he helped Ben with some conflicts. Jack's own job and history spans and reflects our own life-cycle, from youth to death. So again, the messenger himself (not a Christian take here, thank-you) is a being who has seen a lot of things and has an understanding (and compassion) for it all because he has walked in both world's, including the one that Ben has just been introduced to.
A movie? Yes, please. A continuing story? I'd love to read it.
Thanks again for a good book. A nice introduction for me at so early a stage in my life in Thailand, and for one about as green as Ben!
I have just bought your book, THAI GIRL (In Malaysia) last week and even though I have not finished reading it, i already have mixed feelings about the characters. I like Maca and Chuck but I hate the way Emma treated Ben. She shouldn't be that jealous over Ben. I have a series of books about bar girls from Singapore and Thailand itself, but your book is the best.
Even though I have not finished reading it (couldn't find that much time since im working) I know it will be worth reading it and I am just so excited to post you a note after viewing your website.
I love Thailand through my reading and planning to go there one day. Go on and write more books.
I am gonna keep on looking for your latest novels in town (Malaysia maybe a bit late especially as I am in Miri, east Malaysia).
What a fantastic novel you have written. Is there a follow up to THAI GIRL about what happens with Fon and Ben?
I know Thailand very well so could picture all that you wrote.
Keep writing as you are superb at it.