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Thursday, 3 May 2012

THAILAND North and South, two novel recommendations

Thailand is a fabulously diverse country and we have chosen two books, one set in the South of the country, the other in the North.

The first novel is set in Phuket, by author Jake Needham: Let a few succinct words from The Straits Times introduce the book: “In between the lines of his plot, Needham’s provocative views about Asian culture jump at you from almost every page. The gritty and taut KILLING PLATO is 100 per cent unadulterated attitude.” Fancy reading this novel on the beach whilst holidaying in Phuket? Perhaps lying by the pool of the Chava Resort (a fabulous resort, although the irony of the name will not be lost on readers from the UK); maybe swinging gently in a hammock on one of the islands nearby in the Andaman Sea .... just capture the flavour of the location through the works of this terrific author. Incidentally, he has sold over 100,000 copies of his books so he is clearly doing something right!

For something very different and set 2,000km further North we have chosen Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski. It is a book that is lush in landscape and deep in ideas, set among the hill tribes of Northern Thailand. A suspense story blending anthropology and Christian missionaries, it almost feels autobiographical. The thread that keeps the book together is the narrator's almost obsessive attempt to unravel the mystery of Martiya van der Leun, an anthropologist, who had been working with the animist Dyalo hill tribe in Northern Thailand, who was imprisoned for murder and went on seemingly to commit suicide in jail.

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