start the year I look back at the books reviewed in 2010. There was a new
book from a new author, and one that will take your breath away. Mango
Rains by Daniel M Dorothy (ISBN 978-1-905379-66-8, Maverick House, 2010)
is a 442 page blockbuster.
The epic revolves around Nid and her daughter Lek. Nid
loses her daughter while still an infant and spends the next 20 years
looking for her.
Nid is sold into indentured prostitution as a very young
teenager, and being a bar girl would seem to be her future. She knows of
nothing else, nor has the education to allow her to improve on her
prospects. The shallowness of the life as a bar girl is brought out very
clearly, with Nid saying, “It was such a stagnant lifestyle, the quick and
easy money had a way of destroying a person’s ability to dream for a better
The supporting cast is brought into the narrative and
given enough characterization to be credible, such as the Akha woman Malee,
who at one time has possession of the child and Chatchai the teenager who is
attracted to Lek, by then herself also a teenager. Incidentally, that
childhood love is soon destroyed under most horrific circumstances. This is
one of the many times that this book will move you to tears.
The book covers Bangkok, Central Thailand, the
South-eastern region and Issan and shows the wracking poverty of the farmers
and the way advantage is taken of them.
Author Dan Dorothy has lived for many years in Thailand
and his observations of Thai behavior are spot on. While Lek and a friend
were attempting to find the bus station in Korat, but after arriving by
train and asking directions, “It took a couple of hours before they were
finally able to locate the bus station, which, by the way, turned out to be
only about one kilometer from the train station.” Anyone looking for clear
directions in Thailand will always be disappointed.
The pace is kept up all the way through, but even the
ending is not what you, as the reader, hope will happen. This is a most
moving book, showing just how difficult life can be for Thai women from the
poor and underprivileged portion of the community. As quoted on the back
cover, “That two women can have lives so devastating will come as a shock to
those who imagine that Thai community life revolves around the common good.
This is not a tale of foreigners and Thais trying to outwit each other, but
one of Thais taking advantage of other Thais. It will put a new slant on
life in the Land of Smiles.”
At B. 560 this is a book you will never regret reading,
and one you will read more than once. It deserves to be adapted for cinema.
A “must read” publication.
Footnote: Author Dan Dorothy is one who many may come
across locally, as he is the Executive Editor of Pattaya Mail Publishing and
a director of Chiang Mai Mail.