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Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy
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Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  147 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
On one side of the door, the rich smell of sweet, spicy food and the calm of Buddhist devotion; on the other, the strangeness of a new land. When Ira Sukrungruang was born to Thai parents newly arrived in the U.S., they picked his Jewish moniker out of a book of "American" names. In this lively, entertaining, and often hilarious memoir, he relates the early life of a first ...more
ebook, 184 pages
Published May 14th 2014 by University of Missouri Press (first published March 15th 2010)
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Joshua Buhs
The ingredients are there, but they don't quite make a stew.

Ira Sukrungruang is the son of Thai immigrants, raised in Chicago, now teaching at a college in Florida. This book is about the weird balances required of being both Thai and American. The whole set of issues can be read out of his name. His mother chose Ira to sound American; the last name sounds anything but.

The memoir starts with an overview of Sukrungruang's childhood, then carries forward, episodically, until he reached high school
Kelly Ferguson
Sep 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Poignant and humorous memoir about the author's struggle to balance his Thai and American identities. What made the stories for me, was the consistent (and painfully honest) view through the prepubescent teen self--the unfettered love you feel for your friends, the confusion over seeing your parents as people, boobs-video games-TV-pop music-boobs, and the fight for an agenda of your own, versus the one foisted on you by everyone else.
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As the mother of a Thai boy, I found this a nice little glimpse into Thai-American culture. An insight I otherwise never would have known. It's nice to see/hear some beliefs from a culture I hope my son will be a part of.
Aug 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Talk Thai: Adventures of Buddhist Boy

Children need rules. These rules need to be clear-cut and easily understood to be followed. However, when one set of rules off sets and contradicts the other, what does a kid do? Imagine moving to the United States and having to become assimilated in our culture but adhere to your old traditions too. What if you were born to Thai parents and could not deviate from their ways in order to learn those of the friends you might make in America? Ira Sukrungruang ha
Apr 23, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ira Sukrungruang was one of my daughter's professor's at SUNY Oswego, so this is how I came to read this book. It's a slender memoir of his early years growing up in Chicago with parents and "Aunty Sue", who was really a friend of his mother and not an actual relative. In some ways, it's a typical story; his mother wants him to be Thai instead of American, his father wants him to reach that American dream of fame and fortune, while Ira just wants to be a regular kid and fit in with everyone else ...more
Talk Thai details the sometimes frustrating, sometimes difficult, but always funny (as he tells it) childhood of Ira Sukrungruang, the son of Thai immigrants who are living in Chicago. His childhood is filled with dichotomy: his mother requires him to be a good Thai boy, but in the suburban American world that is the only one he’s ever known, Ira just wants to fit in. Which to his mind is, to be white. And to have a normal name, not a Jewish one that his parents picked out of an American naming ...more
Cole Watts
I read this for a university non-fiction class about life narratives. Most of the books from this class had a sense of macabre about them that were tough to read at times. However, they were thought inspiring and shed light to the tribulations of those that are halfway around the world from Americans.

This was the worst of them all
Quick read that’s comprised of a few essays (some apparently previously published in a few different periodicals) rather than a cohesive memoir. Some chapters were more interesting than others, but the writing felt more like an impassive chronicling of events rather than deep reflections from Sukrungruang’s life.
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this book for my memoir class, and--thankfully--I enjoyed it! It's well-written, wonderfully evocative, and downright entertaining. Sukrungruang has a great style and voice, and this story really rang true. I'd recommend it, especially if coming-of-age, immigrant-family memoirs are up your alley.
D.e.e.L/Dan Leicht
I had the pleasure of meeting this author in person during a reading. This book was a great read, a story that is told so wonderfully. Meeting this author only made me love the book even more, a great person that has crafted a great book. Reading this also kick started my reading before bed every night habit. Well worth checking out!
Maureen Stanton
Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an affecting and lyrical coming-of-age and identity memoir. Sukrungruang tells his story of growing up near Chicago as the only son of Thai parents with beauty and grace. Luminous and eloquent scenes serve emblematically and metaphorically to show the challenge of developing a sense of self when the world you inhabit inside your home is different from the one outside.
Apr 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As fair and memorable a memoir as I have read. I was grateful for being in bed sick, allowing me to finish it in one read. Ira is an unlikely Hebrew name for a young Thai boy who struggles to find an identity and a place in America.
Feb 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very entertaining book. It was sometimes sad and often humorous. I enjoyed reading about the author's struggle to grow up in the U. S. while living in a family with strong cultural beliefs. I highly recommend this book!
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Outstanding work, and made me yearn for more!
Patricia Murphy
May 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Yay Ira! I enjoyed this romp through a Chicago childhood. Nice narrative distance while retaining first person authority.
Apr 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A classic story of not only finding your identity but embracing it with such a passion it makes you think about your own.
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book continues to haunt me. The writing is elegant, profound, and a most playful romp.
Aug 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy to read, funny memoir about growing up Thai in America.
Aug 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best memoirs I've read. I've also met him and he's a genuinely funny and nice guy who gives great writing advice. I wish I'd had my book with me so he could have signed it. *sigh*
May 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting memoir so far. I'm learning about the Thai culture. At the same time there is a universality of the immigrant experience and of childhood in the book.
Jun 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining and absorbing read. I am grateful to small presses like University of Missouri who give us this kind of quality. This book could have crossover YA appeal.
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Ira Sukrungruang is the author of the memoirs Southside Buddhist and Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy, and the poetry collection In Thailand It Is Night. He is the coeditor of two anthologies on the topic of obesity: What Are You Looking At? The First Fat Fiction Anthology and Scoot Over, Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology. He is the recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Fel ...more
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