Thursday, October 25, 2007

John Burdett: The Bangkok Underworld

I have read all the books John Burdett has written about Bangkok and also heard him speak about his most recent book when he was on his recent author tour. The books are evocative of the real Bangkok which you will immediately recognise if you have ever visited the city. I have been back several times since 1997 but as a child I also lived there for about a year. Burdett is profiled in The Times this morning with an article and a slide show:

Mr. Burdett delivers this grab bag through his narrator, Sonchai Jitpleecheep, a cop whose mother was a prostitute and whose father was an American soldier during the Vietnam War. Sonchai is a cultural interpreter par excellence, a cross between Descartes and a Thai palm reader who has flashbacks of travels to Europe with his mother and her various client-lovers. “I still feel very Thai, despite my straw-colored hair and sharp nose,” Sonchai says in “Bangkok 8.”

The narrator’s frequent reflections on Buddhism complete the cultural mélange. Mr. Burdett himself meditates one or two hours a day. It’s hard to imagine how the broad and nuanced canvas Mr. Burdett paints in his books could be conveyed on the big screen. But Millennium Films, which recently produced “John Rambo,” the fourth movie in the “Rambo” series, in Thailand, has optioned “Bangkok 8” and is serious about making the film, Mr. Burdett said.

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