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The Sad Part Was

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3.80  ·  Rating details ·  538 ratings  ·  79 reviews
In these witty, postmodern stories, Yoon riffs on pop culture, experiments with punctuation, flirts with sci-fi and, in a metafictional twist, mocks his own position as omnipotent author. Highly literary, his narratives offer an oblique reflection of contemporary Bangkok life, exploring the bewildering disjunct and oft-hilarious contradictions of a modernity that is at ...more
Paperback, 189 pages
Published March 3rd 2017 by Tilted Axis Press (first published 2000)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
Finally back on my ASIA 2019 reading project, this book of short stories by Prabda Yoon (Thailand) plays with words in different ways (one story takes place completely inside one set of parentheses, in a sentence about picking a piece of paper off the floor.) Some of the writing reads a bit awkwardly but it's always hard to tell if that's translation or the original (one was a death story told in a weird tense that must have been difficult to translate!) Overall the stories are very modern and ...more
Gumble's Yard
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
This book is published by a groundbreaking small UK publisher Tilted Axis who publish “books that might not otherwise make it into English, for the very reasons that make them exciting to us – artistic originality, radical vision, the sense that here is something new.” Their name refers to their aim to tilt “the axis of world literature from the centre to the margins ...… where multiple traditions spark new forms and translation plays a crucial role.”

It was founded by Deborah Smith, the
...more
Joseph Vaughan
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Tilted Axis Press continue to utterly astound me. This is a paradoxically funny and tragic insight into Thailand's literature culture and social mileau. Yoon exudes a confidence that trickles into the fabric of the hopelessly introspective characters that fill these stories. I don't know anyone producing translated fiction better than Tilted Axis at the moment.
Benji
Nov 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookbuster, read-2017
On the fence a bit with this one. For the most part, I enjoyed The Sad Part Was, a collection of short stories by Prabda Yoon. I can't remember where this caught my attention, but I'm glad it did - Yoon's writing is playful and witty, writing about everything from unusual punctuation to a metafictional piece that reflects on his position as a narrator.

The problem is, it didn't all work. I enjoyed the experimentation and can see why Yoon his highly regarded in his native Thailand. The stories
...more
Calzean
An interesting collection of, sometime witty, short stories covering modern Thai culture, consumerism and concerns. These are very creative stories such as the loss of buttons in night shirts, of a girl who can't grasp what 1 + 1 equals, four men who had crying parties. They probably have more meaning and depth in Thai but he translation works well.
Callum McAllister
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
These stories are really witty and clever, full of meta-fictional twists and playful uses of style and form -- but not making the mistake of making the point of those stories "look how smart Prabda Yoon is." Genuinely a little sad it's over. Enjoyed every second.
Caroline
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked the first two stories and some of the others quite a bit. A few didn't work for me. I usually avoid short story collections but I recommend this one. The mix of contemporary global youth surface intermingled with remnants of old Thai culture was very effective.
Marie
Jan 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: around-the-world
A mixed bag of short stories, but mostly good. The translator’s afterword was really interesting. I knew nothing about the Thai language before, & it sounds like a huge challenge to translate - particularly the more playful meta stuff that seems common in Yoon’s work here. Mui Poopoksakul did a great job. ‘Miss Space’ was probably my highlight from the collection, and one where the wordplay really retained its impact in English. But, while I enjoyed the collection overall, I suspect most of ...more
Creta
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Creta by: Hà Linh
Shelves: short-stories
In this day and age, we’re developed enough to understand that being a good or bad person doesn’t have meaning anymore. Even if you’re the most heinous person in history, there’ll be others who are cut from the same heinous cloth, allies who’ll go along with your beliefs and actions. In the eyes of people of the same ilk, good can still appear within evil. What’s the point of getting hung up about having to cede the moral high ground when there’s plenty of people to pal around with down below?
...more
Bbrown
Feb 16, 2020 rated it liked it
The Sad Thing Was is a collection of story kernels, almost none of which are developed into anything that feels complete. Prabda Yoon writes a premise, sometimes interesting (the disappearance of a vampire woman of urban legend), sometimes not (a party where people eat hot peppers to force themselves to cry), but then the story ends with no arc, no message, no conclusion. The translator’s note suggests that some of what Yoon is doing through these stories is a meta-examination of the Thai ...more
ElenaSquareEyes
A collection of twelve short stories that are all very different. Translated by Mui Poopoksakul.

All of the short stories are set in modern Thailand and they are all witty and often are a little weird too. They mix together genres like sci-fi with romance or mystery, some of them really shouldn’t work but they do. Pop culture references abound in these stories about characters of all ages and backgrounds. Having a collection feature stories about such different people shows little snapshots of
...more
Jaymee
May 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: asian-lit
This evoked a nostalgic feel as the author and the translator were both from the same decade as I am, based on the translator's notes in the end. In fact, I think I learned a lot from these 2 pages - about the impossibility of the translation, and her background, together with the author. Though I grew up in another country, I'd like to think the experience isn't too different. Some of the stories showed flashes of brilliance, while the others just fell a bit flat. All in all, I'd recommend, ...more
Boyne Narongdej
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a good translation of short stories collection. Being a Thai reader myself, I know that most Thai literature - especially short story - is always centred around realism as its main focus. But this one, since it got SEA Writer Award back in 2002, has opened a new horizon for Thai literary circle with its very distinctive voice, such as metanarrative and so on.

However, it seems to me this collection represents the middle-class perspective of Thailand, or Bangkok in particular, given the
...more
Nikki
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Incredible short stories by a Thai author who is apparently very famous in Thailand but I had never heard of before. What a great find! I often find postmodern literature too nihilistic and self-involved, lacking any substance to engage with, but many of these witty stories still maintain heart and reflection concurrent with the sometimes jaded narrators.
Kate Walton
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Sadly did not like these short stories at all. The writing felt too visible, and almost all the stories ended unresolved; this didn't seem to be because of a skilled author, either, but rather that he didn't know how to end them. I also felt like he was trying a bit too hard to be 'meta' and ironic. Didn't work for me.
Franklin
Jul 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
I made it about halfway through. The characters are unidimensional, and the dialogue like listening to cardboard cut outs talking to one another. Would not recommend
Patrick McCoy
I was excited to see English translations of works by Prabda Yoon, because I knew him as the scriptwriter of a couple great films directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, Last Life in the Universe and Invisible Waves. The first one I read was the short story collection, The Sad Part Was (2000) translated by Mui Poopksaku. I suppose much of the humor and world play hasn't been conveyed due to cultural differences between English and Thai, but many of the stories are clever are entertaining-others not so ...more
Dylan J Hartmann
The translation was in some ways over-literal, lacking domesticisation (assuming non-Thais would ‘get’ the point), inconsistent US/UK English usage, and occasional lack of fluency/improper word usage. I started reading with a sense of excitement, finished the book disappointed. This could all be excused by the fact that the translator was still a student while translating these stories for her PhD. Nevertheless, it was a great feat to translate this work and share Thai contemporary literature ...more
Anna Baillie-Karas
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A refreshing collection of short stories. I was unfamiliar with Prabda Yoon but will now seek out more of his work. Set in Thailand but dealing with human questions & quirky interests more than place, his writing is witty & engaging but at times profound. The title is a poignant reference to June; other memorable characters include Dracula, Wondee with spaces in her writing, & Tong-Jai who has the beautiful logic of a 9 yr old. #readaroundtheworld
Rhiannon Grant
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Some clever and interesting stories. I'm not a big fan of short story collections (some always suffer by being put next to the others, and I tend to wish each one had a fanfic header so I had some idea what was coming!) but enjoyed several of these, especially the one about the disappearing vampire.
Ciaran Monaghan
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
This falls into the experimental category of short story books, where there are few complete stories and more half-formed ideas. There is nothing wrong with the writing or the stories themselves but I don't really engage with them very easily. I am also inclined to compare it with other short story collections I have read this year which were far better.
Rachel
Aug 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this. A great cross section of short stories with various subject manner. I found a few similarities between Yoon and Murakami's short story style. Great writing style and very descriptive - great translation.
Gretel
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I love me some fiction in translation! I've never read any Thai fiction before, and was pleasantly surprised. Yoon has a fresh, confident voice, and although most of these stories were originally published in 2000, they feel like they haven't aged and have stood the test of time. Some stories were forgettable and a bit meh, but it's still a book (and publisher) you should consider checking out.
Daniel Carrol
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
I thought this short story collection was funny, sharp and with enough emotion to keep it grounded, a lot of it about feeling out of place in the world, and specifically Bangkok, would recommend reading.
Museveni
Nov 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
Yoon's stories leave colorful impressions of the settings around Bangkok and Thailand. I feel like I'm back in Lumphini Park. Many went over my head though, and it felt like Yoon was mocking me with his stories about lack of meaning, and futility in search of meaning in these stories.
Maya
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
The choices of absurd logic and lack of ending shows a transitional phase in Thailand...from traditional, romanticized notions about life into a more modernized capitalist space and how people dealt with that transition.
minna
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
all of the stories are so imaginative and thrilling i!!! need!!!! more!!!! my personal favourite was the crying parties
Lu
Jun 16, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5
Some of the stories are much stronger than others. Still worth the read!

Love tilted axis press and their whole concept. Can’t wait to get through some of there other books
Rebecca
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quirky and refreshing - and I think the first book I have ever read by a Thai author..
ATWA
Jan 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: short-stories
The Sad Part is that this book was published.
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