The Blind Earthworm in the Labyrinth

Review of Veeraporn Nitiprapha’s The Blind Earthworm in the Labyrinth, translated by Kong Rithdee (River Books, 2019)

Review

Some authors capture a time and place effortlessly. They draw upon aspects of popular culture and spin them into a literary tale that is more powerful and longer-lasting than the milieu from which they sprang. Veeraporn Nitiprapha is such a writer. But as her work has only appeared in Thai, she has been beyond the reach of most of the world.

One cliché that the author has taken aim at recently for the Thai reading public is the Thai soap opera. For context, one of the most viewed television series in Thailand these days is Club Friday—a series in its tenth season, which follows characters as they swim their way through counter-currents of romance, infidelity, and Buddhist karma. Into this media landscape, Veeraporn has published her artful and lyrical novel The Blind Earthworm in the Labyrinth. This is the first book-length translation of Veeraporn’s fiction in English. The novel is a poetic and surrealistic reimagining of the Thai romance, where the main characters are lost between unrequited desires and fantastical dreams that are realer than their everyday lives.

The story follows two vivacious sisters, Chalika and Chareeya, as they… [click here to continue to read full text]

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*Review of The Blind Earthworm in the Labyrinth originally published in Asian Review of Books by T. F. Rhoden; photo image credit for this re-post is via the talented Nick Knight. Unless otherwise stated, all posts on this website are under Creative Commons license.

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Karen Language Phrasebook: Basics of Sgaw Dialect

A new book for a new year!

Karen Language Phrasebook: Basics of the Sgaw Dialect can be purchased through normal book distributors, including Amazon or directly from White Lotus Press.

Description

Comprehensive guide to the basics of Sgaw dialect of Karen language. Learn key phrases and words to use with any Karen companion, whether they live in Myanmar, Thailand, or wherever in the world. Phrasebook is for more than just learning to survive in a Karen-speaking environment. The goal is also to help you make new friends!

Chapters include: Preface; Acknowledgements; 1) Intro; 2) Basics; 3) Saying Hello; 4) Personal Info; 5) Getting Around; 6) Tea Shop Dining; 7) Staying the Night; 8) Shopping; and 9) Health Bibliography.

Paperback: 126 pages
Publisher: White Lotus Press (2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 974849599X
ISBN-13: 978-9748495996
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 7.7 ounces

Karen Language Phrasebook (big)

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*Original book copyright held by T. F. Rhoden; photo credit to this blog post goes to Khin Maung Kyaw. Unless otherwise stated, all posts on this website are under Creative Commons licence. 

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Texaners: Eight Short Stories

A new book for all of you bored with the normal Texas stereotype!

Texaners: Eight Short Stories can be purchased through normal book distributors, including Amazon.

Description

None of us wishes to abandon stereotypes if we don’t have to. Their utility is unquestionable. Yet, this anthology cares little about all of that. Occasionally, the sensation of sheepishness often associated with a change in one’s understanding of a place or a time is well worth the trial in self-reflection. This is, of course, occasionally. The Irish apostate James Joyce succeeded in secularizing the term “epiphany” for literature.

The book in your hands now, entitled Texaners, borrows unabashedly from Joyce’s insight. Texaners is, naturally, inspired by Joyce’s Dubliners. Impish errors aside, why else bother really? Earlier versions of some of these stories have appeared in literary magazines. “Oils” appeared in The Monarch Review and Status Hat. “The Gulf” appeared in Foliate Oak Literary Journal. “Drywall” appeared in Microstory a Week. “Airfare” appeared in Weirdyear. “Rooftop” appeared in Black Heart Magazine. The stories “Chinese Spoons”, “The Bat Mitzvah”, and “W Martin Luther King Jr Blvd” are new to this collection.

Paperback: 120 pages
Publisher: Etoile Solitaire Press (2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0692512748
ISBN-13: 978-0692512746
Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.3 x 7.8 inches
Shipping Weight: 6.6 ounces

TEXANERS, rhoden (front cover only)

TEXANERS, rhoden (back cover only)

*Original paperback and ebook copyright held by T. F. Rhoden. Unless otherwise stated, all posts on this website are under Creative Commons licence. 

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Yangon and Shwedagon Pagoda

Newest guidebook by T. F. Rhoden!

The newest travel guidebook from Other Places Publishing is called Yangon and Shwedagon Pagoda. Guidebook is available on Kindle and in paperback from all major book distributors, including the publisher, and on Amazon.

Description

Myanmar is turning a new page and Yangon is at the center of a vibrant cultural, political and economic renaissance. This publication, the first travel guide in over half a century to focus only on Myanmar’s most famous city, explores this transforming city from a local’s perspective with firsthand, on-the-ground research that highlights the city’s best sites, restaurants and eateries while providing all the context and insight a traveler needs to fully appreciate the local culture. Written by people who love to travel, let us be your guide to this amazing town, and reveal the most unique and memorable experiences that Yangon has to offer.

– Unique insight into Yangon’s history, people and culture, plus need-to-know information on preparing for travel and what to expect when visiting Yangon.

– Reviews and personal recommendations for 102 sites, 111 nightlife venues, 164 accommodations (from budget guesthouses to luxury hotels), and 343 eateries.

– A chapter dedicated solely to Shwedagon Pagoda, including a full write-up of the major halls and stupas found in and around the temple complex.

– Detailed maps, sprawled over 35 pages, cover nine unique areas of Yangon.

Paperback: 310 pages
Publisher: Other Places Publishing (2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935850164
ISBN-13: 978-1935850168
Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 15 ounces

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*Original copyright for book is held by T. F. Rhoden; photo credit for image of this post as well as cover of this book publication goes to Daw Yi Yi Win. Unless otherwise stated, all posts on this website are under Creative Commons licence. 

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A Teacher’s Letters from the Thai-Burma Border

Thomas Rhoden has published a book of letters called Burmese Refugees: Letters from the Thai-Burma Border.

The American teacher spent a year in refugee camps in the Mae Sot area in one of ten camps dotted along the border. Thomas decided to give his students an assignment one afternoon but he was not prepared for what came back.

The result is a collection of stories that captures the lives of the refugees living on that border, where some 150,000 Burmese asylum seekers are waiting for a new home. Thomas says refugees there are closely monitoring news about Australia’s government’s refugee policies.

Presenter: Adelaine Ng

Speaker: Thomas Rhoden, editor of Burmese Refugees: Letters from the Thai-Burma Border.

*Original talk can be found on Radio Australia; photo credit via Virgina W. Mason, Maruesrite B. Hunsiker, and Maggie Smith at National Geographic Magazine. Unless otherwise stated, all posts on this website are under Creative Commons license. 

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Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand

Coolest travel guide for the North of Thailand!

Other Places Publishing newest guidebook by T. F. Rhoden is entitled Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand. Find on the publisher’s website, through the normal book distributors, or online via Amazon.

Description

The North of Thailand is emerging as a standalone, off-the-beaten-path destination in the otherwise well-traversed Southeast Asia travel route. With the northern mountains covered in verdant jungle and sprinkled with age-old hill tribes, elephant camps, and ancient ruins, it is no wonder that the North is becoming an unforgettable experience for travelers. Laid back cities like Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai offer a burgeoning restaurant and nightlife scene that provides the perfect respite after experiencing the natural beauty of Northern Thailand.

T. F. Rhoden has spent seven years exploring this fascinating country. First as a graduate student, then as a Peace Corps volunteer, and finally as an aid worker on the Thai-Burma border. Through his unique experiences, Rhoden provides insight into the country that has become his second home. With a comprehensive background section covering the history, culture, and logistics of travel, and sixteen sections dedicated to each stop on his recommended travel route, this book will allow travelers to feel like locals while enjoying the indisputable beauty that the North has to offer.

Sights & Activities: From the elephant treks around Chiang Mai to the ancient ruins of Sukhothai Historical Park, we provide everything you will need to experience the beauty of the North.

Volunteering: There are a lot of opportunities to give back, and in so many different ways. Our guidebook will tell you where, why—and most importantly—how to get involved.

Nightlife: The North offers travelers a night out that many thought only Bangkok could offer. Find the best spots to steal a cocktail, spend a relaxing evening, or party with the best of Thailand.

Guesthouses & Resorts: Discover vibrant backpacker guesthouses and a world-class lineup of luxurious hotels and spas; all without breaking your budget.

Language: Thai is not an easy language to learn, so we provide the essential everyday phrases and a few more slangy ones just for fun!

Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: Other Places Publishing (2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935850032
ISBN-13: 978-1935850038
Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces

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*Original copyright for book is held by T. F. Rhoden; cover photo of book and image for this post are by T. F. Rhoden. Unless otherwise stated, all posts on this website are under Creative Commons licence. 

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Thailand Inspires Alumnus to Write Books

Story by Andy Arb from The Journal of Webster University on T. F. Rhoden’s first literary venture in The Village.

When the University of Maryland University College decided to close its international campus in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany in 2001, Thomas Rhoden had to find a new school to attend. Rhoden liked the international campus location options of Webster University, and settled at the Thailand campus. This is where he got his inspiration for his four books, including his novel, “The Village.”

“What I wanted to do with the book was capture what life was really like in the village in modern day Southeast Asia,” Rhoden said.

Rhoden, also known as T.F. Rhoden, his pen name, is originally from Dallas. After graduating from Webster University-Thailand in 2003, he moved to China before moving before moving back to Thailand when he joined the Peace Corps. Rhoden left Thailand again, but returned after he went to Arizona to earn his MBA.

Rhoden spent seven years off and on living in Thailan, so he knew the state of small communities in Southeast Asia, and wanted to clear up any misconceptions people might have.

“A lot of what you might read from… [click here to continue to read full text]

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*Originally published in The Journal of Webster University by Andy Arb; photo credits for this re-post via by Tom at Isan Life. Unless otherwise stated, all posts on this website are under Creative Commons licence. 

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Burmese Refugees: Letters from the Thai-Burma Border

New publication by Rhoden brothers!

DL Press presents the edited collection Burmese Refugees: Letters from the Thai-Burma Border. Book is available on Kindle, from normal book distributors, and online at Amazon.

Description

The misrule of the Burmese military junta continues to be the main catalyst of refugees in Southeast Asia today. In this collection of letters, learn about the true stories of people who have fled from that regime. All of the accounts are written by the refugees themselves and explain how they became asylum seekers, what life is like in the camps, and what they envision for their future. These stories document persons from the 8888 generation, the 2007 Saffron Revolution, and various ethnic struggles. This book contains the narratives of thirty diverse individuals – all of them united by the simple desire to have a more representative government in their homeland.

Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Digital Lycanthrope Press (2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0615471072
ISBN-13: 978-0615471075
Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 6.2 ounces

BR Letters

*Original copyright for book and ebook held by T. F. Rhoden and T. L. S. Rhoden; cover design by Inga Böhm and cover photos by Khin Maung Kyaw; photo credit for image post goes to Current Issues in Refugee Education.Unless otherwise stated, all posts on this website are under Creative Commons licence. 

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Review of Burmese Refugees by Pascal Khoo-Thwe

Review

Reviewed by Pascal Khoo-Thwe.

Burmese Refugees: Letters from the Thai-Burma Border is a collection of short, moving autobiographical essays written by Burmese refugees living in camps situated along the Thai-Burma border. The book consists of 31 essays, along with a concise history of the country, introductory notes to three sections the essays are divided into: 8888 Uprising, 2007 Uprising, Ethnic Strife and comments on or footnotes to each essay.

The complicated nature of Burmese politics and ethnic makeup means that it has never been easy to describe Burma accurately or fully in one book. But the diversity also offers many colorful and unique pictures with scintillating nuances to many scholars and observers alike who want to go beyond the political norm and clichés.

Burmese Refugees is an invaluable and rare book that faithfully records the complexities and subtleties in the often depressing and hopeless situations of Burmese refugees who live in political limbo, and often forgot or ignored by the outside world until bad things happen to them. It manages to string together episodes of the lives of the refugees in a compact form without sensationalizing them, with excellent editing and deep understanding of the issues of the country.

The comments at the end of each essay serve as important frames or strings to hold individual stories and link them together like a string of pearls. Far from being judgmental or patronizing, they help the reader understand the wider context of each case. It is refreshing to read a book about Burma that registers and elucidates the pains, the sorrows and the aspirations of the characters with equal measures through empathy, fairness and an eye for significant details often overlooked by the characters themselves.

A matter of fact descriptions by the characters about their lives and the even-handedness of the editors make the ‘mundane’ stories more alluring, vivid and thought-provoking as they only ask understanding from the readers through their often desperate, naïve, hopeful voices, but still retaining their dignity.

Pascal Khoo-Thwe is the author of From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey.

*Original copyright for Burmese Refugees belongs to T. F. Rhoden and T. L. S. Rhoden; image credit at top of post via Hedda. Special thanks to Pascal for the wonderful review! Unless otherwise stated, all posts on this website are under Creative Commons licence. 

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Making Out in Burmese

Zaniest book on Burmese language ever!

New language phrasebook by T. F. Rhoden entitled Making Out in Burmese, published by Tuttle Publishing. Find a traditional book stores and online at Amazon.

Description

Making Out in Burmese is a fun, accessible and thorough Burmese phrase book and guide to the Burmese language as it’s really spoken.

Nihn yeh myiht lohn goh jait deh. Beh daw teht-dway ja oo me-lah?—(You have beautiful eyes. When can I see you again?) Answer this correctly in Burmese and you may be going on a hot date. Incorrectly, and you could be hurting someone’s feelings or getting a slap! Burmese classes and textbooks tend to spend a lot of time rehearsing for the same fictitious scenarios but chances are while in Myanmar (Burma) you will spend a lot more time trying to make new friends or start new romances—something you may not be prepared for.

If you are a student, businessman or tourist traveling to Myanmar and would like to have an authentic and meaningful experience, the key is being able to speak like a local. This friendly and easy-to-use Burmese phrasebook makes this possible. Making Out in Burmese has been carefully designed to act as a guide to modern colloquial Burmese for use in everyday informal interactions—giving access to the sort of catchy Burmese expressions that aren’t covered in traditional language materials. As well as the Romanized, each expression is now given in authentic Burmese script (myanma bhasa), so that in the case of difficulties the book can be shown to the person the user is trying to communicate with.

This Burmese phrasebook includes:

– A guide to pronouncing Burmese words correctly.
– Explanations of basic Burmese grammar.
– Romanized forms of words and phrases.
– Complete Burmese translations including Burmese script (myanma bhasa).
– Useful and interesting notes on the Burmese language and culture.
– Lots of colorful, fun and useful expressions not covered in other phrasebooks.

Titles in this unique series of bestselling phrase books include: Making Out in Chinese, Making Out in Indonesian, Making Out in Thai, Making Out in Korean, Making Out in Hindi, Making Out in Japanese, Making Out in Vietnamese, Making Out in Burmese, Making Out in Tagalog, Making Out in Hindi, Making Out in Arabic, Making Out in English, More Making Out in Korean, and More Making Out in Japanese.

Series: Making Out Books
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; Bilingual edition (2011)
Language: English, Burmese
ISBN-10: 080484173X
ISBN-13: 978-0804841733
Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.3 x 7.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces

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*Original copyright for book is held by T. F. Rhoden; photo credit for image of this post via Jessica Mudditt. Unless otherwise stated, all posts on this website are under Creative Commons licence. 

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