It's something of an irony that Thailand, alone among its Southeast Asian neighbors, was never a colony, since no country in the region benefitsor suffersas much from the encroaching presence of the West. Born in Chicago and raised in Bangkok, Rattawut Lapcharoensap is more qualified than most to address the cross-cultural tensions of contemporary Thailandspecifically, what it means to be a local in a tourism-dependent economy and society. The thesis is bluntly stated in "Sightseeing," the title story of the 25-year-old writer's debut collection: "Thailand was only a paradise for fools and farangs [Thai slang for Westerners], for criminals and foreigners." Indeed, recent reports that relief efforts on the country's tsunami-struck Andaman coast have sidelined fishing villages in favor of beach resorts provide a sadly topical backdrop for Lapcharoensap's minor-key riffs, all set in Thailand and mostly narrated by precociously wise, working-class... More >>>
By photo: June Glasson
Cross-cultural bluesman Lapcharoensap: How do you like my Thai?