Sunday, April 28, 2019

Review: Bright

Bright Bright by Duanwad Pimwana
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kampol is a child left behind by his parents at a young age and has to fend for himself with the help of various friends and characters in his community. This is the first novel by a Thai female author to be translated into English and it was a delight to read. Where other authors would craft this story as a trauma narrative, this is much more about his daily life and the people he interacts with along the way.

In the same month I read Bright, I finally read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures. Early on the author mentions a Hmong folktale:
"One of the recurring characters in Hmong folktales is the Orphan, a young man whose parents have died, leaving him alone to live by his wits... he is clever, energetic, brave, persistent.... "
Sounds familiar, right? I couldn't find any evidence of the author being anything other than Thai, but folktales do travel. It puts it in a different light if this might be a modern day telling of a traditional myth, at least for me. It would be a reference that local audiences would get immediately while those of us reading it in translation may not. If you've read this one, do you think I'm on to something?

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