WHAT ARE YOU READING?
Bundit Thianrat's cheerful personality makes him a fitting candidate for the kind of job most young men would find unappealing: taking care of elderly folk. In the mid-2000s, Bundit was studying in Sydney when he found a part-time job at an old people's home, where he spent three years of his life tending to the sick, the frail, and the sometimes helpless. The experience was so enriching, surprising and touching that Bundit decided to write a book about it, and Tales From The Nursing Home (in Thai) was released two weeks ago.
A former journalist, Bundit's face was well known to daytime television fans when, after he returned from Australia, he hosted an art programme on Thai PBS. Also a keen semi-professional singer, Bundit specialises in luk krung _ a genre of Thai oldies from the 1950 to 60s _ and he still performs at various concerts alongside crooners of yesteryear. His latest gig was yesterday at Sala Chalermkrung.
Here we ask the newly published author to share his reading list with us.
_ Kong Rithdee
What are you reading?
I just finished this book and I plan to re-read it immediately, Nai Krajok: Wannakam Lae Karnmuang Siam Yook American [In The Mirror: Literature And Politics in Siam In The American Era] by Benedict Anderson. It is a collection of Thai short stories written by top Thai writers [from the 1950s to 1970s] but it's also a critique of Thai literature of that period. The analysis is very insightful and powerful.
What is a book that you've always wanted to read but still haven't? Why haven't you read it?
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami. It's a collection of his short stories. I read the first story and I was so impressed by it that I have been obsessed with adapting it into a short film script. That distracts me from reading the rest of the book.
How many books are waiting to be read at home?
I'm not sure. But I have a premonition that I will have to call a rescue service to salvage my remains in case those books tumble down and bury me.
What was the last book that made you laugh?
Ngao Jan Nai Anya Prakat [literally, the moon shadow in quotation marks]. This is a collection of short stories by writer and social commentator Mukhom Wongtes, whose sense of humour is biting and dark. I laughed and I got a headache reading this "heavy humour" book.
What was the last book that made you cry?
There's this one passage in Petch Pra Uma [a serial adventure novel by Panomtian]. Rapin Praiwal and Darin are looking for Ngai-sai and stumble upon the eagle-shaped mountain. They start to argue, and I feel sad that they have so little time to be together and yet they get into a fight. Ten times I read it and 10 times I cried.
Your book, Tales From The Nursing Home, is written from your experience in Sydney. Did you read a lot of books while you were there?
What's good is that in Australia, books aren't so expensive. I bought a lot of books when I was there _ you can re-read my answer of question No.3. I remember that in Sydney I read Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress, by Dai Sijie. It's a love story with the backdrop of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The story reminds me how Thailand is at the moment.
Your book is about elderly people. Is there any book about elderly people you'd like to recommend?
My own book of course, Tales From The Nursing Home.