Whether you’re already planning a trip to Thailand, or just eager to go, these five books will help get you excited about this beautiful South Asian country. (In partnership with Kobo.)
You might be more familiar with this 1996 book by British author Alex Garland as the 2000 film of the same name, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio and was directed by Danny Boyle. Both tell the tale of a young American tourist who stumbles upon an isolated, self-sufficient, completely secretive beach settlement off the coast of Ko Samui. Even if you’ve seen the film, it’s worth picking up the page-turner.
This 2009 debut by Paolo Bacigalupi won the then first-time novelist a slate of awards, including the award for best translated long fiction at the Japanese Science Fiction Convention. The book tells the story of Anderson Lake, an agri-businessman sent on an undercover mission in Thailand to recover foods thought to be extinct, in order to recover humanity’s lost calories (his alias is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Calorie Man). While on this mission, he encounters the mysterious, bio-engineered Windup Girl. A great read for lovers of sci-fi and dystopia alike.
Somtow has been called the “J. D. Salinger of Siam” for his dry, observational wit and cutting humour. The book focuses on Little Frog, a 12-year-old Bangkok resident who lives with his three aunts — and refuses to accept that he’s Thai. Little Frog eats English food, speaks English, and responds to the name Justin, not Little Frog. When he meets Virgil, a Black American boy, his journey of fantasy, whimsy, and self-discovery gets ever richer — and a bit more topsy-turvy.
This 1952 novel — which, like The Beach, was also adapted into a film, in 1957 — centres on a building over one of the railway bridges over the Mae Kong, near the Thai town of Kanchanaburi. The plot describes three British prisoners of war and their attempts to sabotage the construction of the bridge.
This thriller is the first in a series of five novels set in Bangkok. In it, a Marine is murdered inside a locked Mercedes in front of a crowd of spectators. Among the witnesses are two police officers: one of them is murdered almost immediately; the other sets out to avenge the two deaths. It’s a fast-paced roller coaster of crime, corruption, and romance that’s sure to hook readers on Burdett’s series overall.
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