Isan Writers, Thai Literature

Writing and Regionalism in Modern Thailand

Martin B. Platt

  • Published: 2013
  • Pages: 292 pp, illustrated
  • Series: NIAS Monographs
  • Series number: 126
Available from NIAS Press in Europe
ISBN Paperback: 978 87 7694 129 1, £18.99

•Explores Isan identity from a new angle.

•First study of regionalism and identity in modern Thai literature.

•First work published in English tracing the recent literary history of Thailand.

•Highly relevant to scholars working on Asian literature elsewhere.

Regional characteristics and regional language feature prominently in discussions of Thai identity but there is little mention of regional literatures. In this ground-breaking work, the author explores regional origins and sensibilities in the national literature of Thailand with a study of writers from the country’s northeastern Isan region and the modern literature they produce. Although these authors write primarily in Thai, it is nonetheless possible to identify an Isan strand in the national literature. Here, Martin Platt focuses on the second half of the 20th century, when Isan writers and their work attained the highest levels of literary and cultural achievement. It was also a time when, while grappling with how their origins and experiences related to the Thai centre, they played a significant and at times pivotal role in the development of modern Thai literature.

As well as being the first work published in English tracing the recent literary history of Thailand, Martin Platt’s account of Isan literature opens the way for a further investigation of the regional dimension in modern Thai literature. In addition, it offers insights and an analytical model that scholars examining literary works in other Asian countries will find of great relevance.

Critical Acclaim: ‘Northeast Thailand has a rich and turbulent history, as reflected in its wealth of literary traditions. This book on Northeast Thai literature, both insightful and pioneering, provides an in-depth look at a world that has thus far been invisible in modern western scholarship.’ – Peter Koret (biographer of Narin Phasit)

‘[A] most informative and perceptive piece of writing on modern Thai literature.’ – David Smyth

author image not supplied

Martin B. Platt is an associate professor in Thai/Southeast Asian Studies at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen.

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by Chris Baker
From journal:
Bangkok Post, 2 December 2013

"His book is, I think, is the first attempt to review a regional contribution to modern Thai literature. He covers a lot of writers, providing capsule biographies, lists of publications and details on their life and work from personal interviews. He sets their work into its political and social context very deftly.

"His book is, I think, is the first attempt to review a regional contribution to modern Thai literature. He covers a lot of writers, providing capsule biographies, lists of publications and details on their life and work from personal interviews. He sets their work into its political and social context very deftly.

…This is a very sympathetic and sensitive study of writers and writing over a half-century of complex politics and shifting cultural forces. Anyone interested in Thai literature and Isan as a region will appreciate this very readable and enlightening study."

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