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Morning Coffee-“Talk Thai” -a memoir

Talk Thai: Adventures of a Buddhist Boy

Talk Thai: Adventures of a Buddhist Boy

CONTACT: Sherri Rosen 212-222-1183
454 Manhattan Ave., Suite 3J, NYC 10026


A Richly Told Tale of One Boy’s Life Growing Up
as a First-Generation Thai-American in 1980’s America

Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy
by Ira Sukrungruang

University of Missouri Press
168 pages, 5 ¼ x 8
978-0-8262-1889-6, $24.95 cloth
Publication date: March 26, 2010

New York, NY (February 2010) — On one side of the door, the enticing smell of sweet, spicy food and the calm of Buddhist devotion; on the other, the strangeness of a new land.

When Ira Sukrungruang was born to Thai parents newly arrived in the U.S., they picked his Jewish moniker out of a book of “American” names. In this lively, entertaining, and often hilarious memoir, he relates the early life of a first-generation Thai-American and his constant, often bumbling attempts to meet cultural and familial expectations while coping with the trials of growing up in 1980s America.

Young Ira may have lived in Oak Lawn, Illinois, but inside the family’s bi-level home was “Thailand with American conveniences.” They ate Thai food, spoke the Thai language, and observed Thai customs. Ira’s bedtime stories were tales of Buddha and monkey-faced demons. On the first day of school his mother reminded him that he had a Siamese warrior’s eyes—despite his thick glasses—as Aunty Sue packed his Muppets lunch box with fried rice. But when his schoolmates played tag he was always It, and as he grew, he faced the constant challenge of reconciling American life with a cardinal family rule: “Remember, you are Thai.”

Inside the Thai Buddhist temple of Chicago, another “simulated Thailand,” are more rules, rules different from those of the Southside streets, and we see mainstream Western religion—“god people”— through the Sukrungruang family’s eyes. Within the family circle, we meet a mother who started packing for her return to Thailand the moment she arrived in America; her best friend, Aunty Sue, Ira’s second mother, who lives with and cooks for the family; and a wayward father whose dreams never quite pan out.

Talk Thai is a richly told account that takes us into an immigrant’s world. Here is a story imbued with Thai influences and the sensibilities of an American upbringing, a story in which Ira practices English by reciting lines from TV sitcoms and struggles with the feeling of not belonging in either of his two worlds. For readers who delight in the writings of Amy Tan, Gish Jen, and other Asian-Americans, Talk Thai provides generous portions of a rich and ancient culture while telling the story of a modern American boyhood with humor, playfulness, and uncompromising honesty.

About the Author

Ira Sukrungruang has published fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in numerous periodicals and coedited What Are You Looking At? The First Fat Fiction Anthology and Scoot Over, Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology. He is Assistant Professor of English at the University of South Florida and lives in Brandon with his wife and three dogs.

Talk Thai is available at local bookstores, online retailers, or directly from Chicago Distribution Services.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 at 4:08 pm and is filed under Industry News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Morning Coffee-“Talk Thai” -a memoir”

  1. Otilia Sperry Says:

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