(translated by Mui Poopoksakul)
NEW RELEASE – OUT NOW
The first novel by a Thai woman to appear in English outside of Thailand. Winner of Southeast Asia’s most prestigious literary prize, the S.E.A. Write Award.
A modern classic in Thailand, Bright is taught there in hundreds of schools and universities, and has sold an estimated 155,500 copies in Thailand, an astonishing figure for that market.
With her income from the book, Pimwana has built a house in the town where the story is set.
This is a book that is equal parts melancholic and exuberant, by an author with a knack for finding the gap between who we are and who we’d like to be.
When five-year-old Kampol’s father tells him to sit on the kerb and await his return, the confused boy does as he’s told. He waits and waits, until eventually he realises his father may not be coming back. In his parents’ absence, Kampol is adopted by the community and raised on rotation by the local adults.
Flea markets, the search for a ten-baht coin, pet crickets eaten for dinner, bouncy ball fads, and loneliness so merciless that it kills a boy’s appetite: Duanwad Pimwana’s urban vignettes form an off-beat and myth-like coming-of-age story about an unforgettable young boy and the community surrounding him.
LENGTH: 208 pp.
PUBLICATION DATE: July 23 2019
MORE ABOUT THE BOOK
Contemporary Thai author Duanwad Pimwana's Changsamran (English title: Bright) is an episodic novel that explores the quality of human resilience through the adventures of Kampol Changsamran, a young boy left behind by his parents after their ugly breakup. Holding onto hope that they would return for him, the five-year-old, also called simply “Boy", is left to the graces of their neighbours in a community where everyone is desperate to make ends meet. The novel, set in a seaside town on Thailand's eastern seaboard, follows Boy as he learns to scrape by, giving massages to earn pocket money, for example, and to hold his head up, with whatever help his friends and neighbours can provide. As befits his last name, Changsamran, which means “bright, joyful", Boy manages to find small joys and amusement in the games and antics in which he gets involved, even as his parents' return proves fleeting. Along with the other characters that appear in the novel, he shows the scrappy resourcefulness of those living in a small-town, working-class milieu in a developing country.
Bright is divided into thirty-seven short chapters, most of which could be read as standalone stories. The novel is the best-known work of Duanwad Pimwana, whose writing has been described as social realist with elements of magic realism. With this tragicomedy, Pimwana combines the art of short stories with a longer form and thereby creates a work whose structure reflects the human condition: the darkness of the overall story arc is mitigated by the lightness lent by the individual episodes. In different instalments, Boy tries, among other things, to get bitten by the landlady's dog in order to get a care basket; to see if his mother would pick him up by pretending to be lost at a temple fair and having her paged; to copy winning lottery numbers to sell to grownups who do not want to spend money on newspapers; and to hawk wares at a flea market without paying the rent. Even as Boy and his friends show an enduring bright-eyed optimism, propelled by their childish reasoning that brings in comic absurdness, the sunny spots in the story are never without a shade of irony, and their efforts tend to end in failure.
‘What Does It Mean to Be a Thai Feminist?’: Mui Poopoksakul at Electric Literature
‘In Conversation: Duanwad Pimwana and Lindsay Semel’ Asymptote
‘Duanwad Pimwana and Mui Poopoksakul in conversation with Andrea Scrima’ The Brooklyn Rail
‘The PEN Ten: An Interview in Translation with Duanwad Pimwana’ Pen America
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Duanwad Pimwana is a major voice in contemporary Thai literature. She won Southeast Asia’s most prestigious literary prize, the S.E.A. Write Award, in 2003 for her novel Bright and she is also the recipient of awards from PEN International Thailand among others. Acclaimed for her subtle fusing of magic realism with Thai urban culture, she has published nine books. Bright is her first novel to be translated into English, and Arid Dreams is her first collection of stories.
Born to farmer parents, Pimwana attended a vocational school and started off as a journalist at a local newspaper. She is one of only six women to have won the Thai section of the S.E.A. Write in its thirty-seven-year history. Known for fusing touches of magic realism with social realism, she has published nine books, including a novella and collections of short stories, poetry, and cross-genre writing, and is currently working on a political novel. She often draws inspiration from the fishing and farming communities of her native Chonburi, a seaside province on the Thai east coast, where she now lives with her partner, the poet Prakai Pratchaya.
PRAISE FOR BRIGHT
Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen, The Saturday Paper
“Bright is an authentic portrait of a working class community in Thailand, written in a remarkably clean prose style and with profound compassion. Duanwad Pimwana’s bittersweet novel reveals glimpses of the inner life of Thai culture in such an entertaining and jocular manner that one can’t help but absorb its social realist ingredients with pleasure and ease. With Pimwana’s contribution, contemporary Thai literature is stronger, and I believe that this wonderful translation of one of her best works will prove to be seminal for Thailand’s place in the literary world.”
Prabda Yoon, author of Moving Parts
“Duanwad Pimwana has a knack for finding the gap between who we are and who we’d like to be, and deftly inserting her scalpel there. Across the villages and cities of Thailand, her characters exist in a state of constant anxiety, unable to fit in but having nowhere else to go.”
Jeremy Tiang, author of State of Emergency
“Pimwana’s enchanting debut (the first novel by a Thai woman translated into English) captures the vivid life of a small Thai child abandoned by his family. ... Readers will enjoy Kampol’s antics, the colorful side characters, and glimpses of Thai culture in this melancholy-tinged but still exuberant novel.”
ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR
Mui Poopoksakul is a lawyer-turned-translator. She grew up in Bangkok and Boston, and practiced law in New York City before returning to the literary field. She is the translator of Prabda Yoon’s The Sad Part Was (2017) and Moving Parts (2018), both winners of a PEN Translates award. The Sad Part Was was also shortlisted for the UK Translators’ Association First Translation Prize. She previously guest-edited the Thailand issue of Words Without Borders, and her work has also appeared in various literary journals, including Two Lines, Asymptote, The Quarterly Conversation, and In Other Words. She is based in Berlin.