The Naga’s Journey
2007. 270 pp., 21.5 x 15.2 cm., softcover.
ISBN-10: 974-524-102-4 $16.95
Book review by Chris Otchy
(BK Magazine No. 189, June 15-21, 2007)
Popular for his books on Tai Chi and meditation, author Tew Bunnag first gained acclaim in literature in 2003 with the release of the short story collection Fragile Days: Tales from Bangkok. The Naga’s Journey is his first novel. It opens by introducing three characters taken straight off the streets of Bangkok: Don, a young man coming out of the monkhood after being unsettled by a vision he had while meditating; Arun, a painter still struggling with inner demons; and Marisa, a has-been film star in the process of transforming her life. The characters are thrown together by the death of an infamous massage parlor kingpin, to whom all three have dodgy links they’d rather forget. Though their friendship is unlikely given how disparate their lives are, the story, while slow in patches, is compelling and remains believable. Things start to get interesting when all three realize they can no longer run from their past, and that they must face the reality of who they are and where they came from.
Considering the current climate of English language literature in Thailand, The Naga’s Journey is a godsend. It’s a harsh read in places, but it’s that honesty that gives the book its drive. The ending is fittingly raw—a bold decision that makes the story even more true to life.
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