From the back:
"Miss Bangkok is a vivid, powerful and moving memoir of a life spent in prostitution in Thailand. Poor and uneducated, Bua Boonmee escaped an abusive marriage only to end up in the go-go bars of Patbong. There, in the notorious red-light district of Bangkok, she succumbed to prostitution in an effort to support her family.
Bua's story is one of resilience and courage in the face of abuse and poverty. Her confessions will make you laugh and cry, cringe and applaud. She will change your perception of prostitution forever."
A fleamarket buy
Not sure what to say about this book, to be honest, except that I almost gave up on it a few times but am nevertheless glad I persevered until the end.
A story like this isn't literature so I'm glad I managed to get past the frustration with the somewhat clichéd language and style and was then able to concentrate more on the story itself. And the story was gruesome indeed, which was another reason why I thought at one point that I might not be able to finish the book.
The story reminded me of The Fox Girl by Nora Okja Keller, which I read a while ago; it was also about prostitution and destitution, but in Korea. What strikes me about these stories is how dehumanized these societies appear to be. And how totally without hope for a better future the people in these stories - be they fiction or nonfiction - appear to be.
It's something I find very hard to relate to, which is why I was at times almost unable to sympathize with Bua as it felt to me like she gave up too easily, on school, on her son, on her self-esteem. But then again, I've certainly never had to live in poverty or go through the things she has, so I think I really don't have the right to feel like that. Also, I think my feelings may be partly due to the fact the story was constructed: it focused almost solely on just a few aspects of Bua's life and left others untouched (only briefly referring to her weekly visits to see her first-born son who lives with Bua's mother, for example).
I'd also like to criticize the back cover text. I certainly didn't "laugh and cry, cringe and applaud" at Bua's confessions, nor did she "change my perception of prostitution forever". Those claims far overestimate the book's merits in my view.
This book will now travel on to Dancesports who picked it from the South-East Asian VBB.