WHAT ARE YOU READING?
Non-fiction writer Orasom Suddhisakorn has been busy visiting prisons. Those who are familiar with her books, which read like convicts' biographies, might assume that she is doing research and interviews for a new tome.
However, for the last three years, Orasom has been teaching prisoners to write. The project is part of Kamlangjai (Inspiration), an initiative by Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha to rehabilitate inmates. It provides weekly writing courses for inmates at Bang Kwang Maximum Security Jail. Books from the project _ written by convicts, including a few on death row _ have even been published, the first being Issarapab Bone Sen Bantad: 13 Nak Tode Praharn (Freedom On The Line Of Language: 13 Convicts On Death Row).
Last week, the project published two new books: Face Kook: Rueng Lao Jark Bang Kwang (Face Of Prison: Tales From Bang Kwang Maximum Security Prison) and Face Kook: Rueng Lao Jark Dan Ying Ratchaburi (Face Of Prison: Tales From A Female Prison In Ratchaburi).
Orasom, 53, spoke to Life about what inspires her writing and what's on her reading list.
_ Anchalee Kongrut
What book is on your nightstand?
The translated biography of Steve Jobs, even though I am not a devotee of the late tech genius nor Apple products. I am technology illiterate ... all I can do is send an email. I do not have a Facebook account and no smartphone. I read this book because a non-fiction writer studies exemplary work. The biographer Walter Isaacson did monumental research, acquiring information from friends and foes of Jobs. From a perspective of biography writing, this book reflects the freedom that every biographer dreams of. The late Steve Jobs, regardless of his notoriously manipulative complexion, was so open-minded and respectful to the writer's poetic licence by not imposing conditions to read the manuscript or censoring negative subjects. That is an ideal condition for a biographer, to go all the way, presenting the good and bad side of a person. This book shows Steve Jobs as a genius and a real human, and with human fallacies, like everyone.
Do you buy a lot of books? Are you a disciplined reader who must finish every book you start? What are your favourite subjects?
I still have more than 100 books that I bought that are unopened. I usually buy translated books, books on dhamma and essays.
Aeng Nam Klang Talay Sai (Oasis In The Desert) by essayist New Klom, is a book that's fresh in my mind. It is a book where the writer gives fresh perspectives of life to readers and also positive energy.
Have you been disappointed by reading books that others praise?
The Harry Potter series. I am not under the spell of those wizards. It is not about the quality of writing, but I believe that each person has an individual reaction to each book. Harry's magic simply does not work on me.
What is your favourite book?
Phra Anondha Buddha Anucha (Phra Anondha, Brother Of Lord Buddha) by Wasin Indhasa. Wasin created fiction based on the life of Lord Buddha's principle disciple Phra Anondha, who was also a close relative of his and a brilliant and handsome man.
What make this book a classic is the writer's lyrical and majestic prose that is also philosophical. You will find beautiful pearls of wisdom in this book.
As a non-fiction writer, what are your favourite non-fiction works?
There are not many non-fiction favourites that I can think of. But I enjoy reading fiction where the writer incorporates the essence of reality. Our Land or Pan Din Khong Rao by Mae Anong [pen-name of renowned writer Malai Chupinit] is an excellent example of realistic fiction. The story is a fictitious account of a rebellious woman. Yet, the writer uses his prose, narrative and perspective and observed reality. I also enjoy reading works of Or Udakorn, a medical student and writer who wrote the well-know book Tuek Gross (The Gross Building).
It is often said that reading has the ability to change life. What are your thoughts on that?
There are many good books that can touch our hearts and instruct our souls. But how many of them can change the course of our life? For me, that book is Lakorn Haeng Chevit by MC Akart Damkerng. It is the book that sparked my career as a writer. After completing this book, I knew I wanted to become a news reporter and writer, much like the character in the book. Not so many books have the power to change or lead someone's life like that.