oUT MARCH 1ST FROM BURLESQUE PRESS:
PRAISE FOR The melting season
"In his debut collection, The Melting Season, Sukrungruang writes with compassion, humor and tenderness about the sting of cultural exclusion and isolation. His underdog characters make you root for them every step of the way, thanks to Sukrungruang's honest portrayal of their deep loneliness and family heartbreak. To sweeten the deal, the book simmers with food so delicious it will make you hungry for more."
- Anne Panning, author of Super America
"Big, bold and shape-shifting...the work of a great talent and an enormous heart."
- Madeleine Thein, author of Dogs at the Perimeter
out now from University of Tampa Press:
Praise for Southside Buddha
At one point in Ira Sukrungruang’s beautiful new memoir, he finds himself becoming a birder. He learns that, of all lessons, the most important is, “you have to love what you watch.” This credo infuses these precisely crafted, linked essays. We follow a narrator who understands that to observe closely is to love and, like love, can both hurt us deeply and bring us great joy.
- Brenda Miller
Say that you're from the Southside of Chicago and you're Thai and you speak to Buddha on occasion and you tell us how it is that you belong here in America and that your voice is rooted here and we should all listen--then this book is for you. Southside Buddhist is mesmerizing look at the landscape of America from the 'southside' of most everything and everywhere.
- Shawn Wong
The essays in Ira Sukrungruang’s Southside Buddhist are splendid meditations and memoirs that take us deep into the heart of this son of Thai immigrants as he attempts to define himself—a complicated matter, caught as he is, between cultures, between his mother and father, between his memory of that family and the new ones he forms, between the parts of himself that strain to cohere. These essays resonate with beauty and grit and the author’s intense longing to be whole. This is a collection to savor.”
- Lee Martin
To read the poems in In Thailand It Is Night is to encounter a speaker who knows that poetry lies deeply embedded in the body, and in the litany of breath itself. Sukrungruang has limned an extraordinary collection couched in the broken language of immigration and the mystical language of reincarnation, a book that is as dreamy as it is resolute. Deeply rooted in the landscape, these poems define emotion using the riches of the natural world: finches and cranes and crows, geckos and tree frogs and cardinals and moths—these creatures weave longing, memory, and family into an intricate, lyric-narrative web. “My palms are up,” writes Sukrungruang, and this gesture signifies how open his poetry is to the world, to the simultaneous beauty and suffering it brings.”
As Americans are the fattest people on earth, the fat, the formerly fat, those who feel fat, and those who fear fat encompass just about all of us. In this surprising collection of pieces, almost half of which are original to this anthology, some of our most lively, provocative writers explore the many folds of fat that make up reality. From David Sedaris’s hilarious assessment of his father’s fat prejudices in “A Shiner Like A Diamond” to Anne Lamott’s self-prescribed cathartic weight loss remedies in “Hunger”, Pam Houston’s rich literary panorama in “Out of Habit I Start Apologizing,” and psychiatrist Irving Yalom’s deeply moving confrontation of his own biases in “Fat Lady,” each piece in its unique way deals with fat as a matter of fact. Sometimes funny, sometimes angry, often illuminating and always engaging, these writers make a new and compelling case for why we should make room for a bigger behind.
Talk Thai: A Memoir of an Immigrant Son is the story of a first generation Thai-American growing up in a Thai family, and his constant attempts to reconcile cultural and familial expectations. It is a first-generation Asian American story, a mama’s boy story, a Chi-town Southsider story, a child of the 80s story, a child of a broken home story. In this book we meet a mother who started packing for her return to Thailand the moment she arrived in this country, whose dreams of a normal Thai son, of a normal Thai family, slowly erode; that mother’s best friend, the narrator’s second mother, who lives with and cooks for the family; and a wayward father whose dreams never quite come to fruition. Yet despite the cultural conflict that manifests in the home, in the community, and in Sukrungruang’s mind, this book is written with humor and playfulness, by a writer not afraid to make a little fun of himself nor to expose the moments of poignancy in his life. Readers will discover Buddhism from a new perspective as they read about Sukrungruang drawing the Buddha’s hands in temple, and see mainstream Western religion “god people” through his and his family’s eyes. They will follow his steps towards manhood, shaped by his two Thai mothers, his golf-obsessed father, and his Southside Chicago friends discussing the word “fairy.” People in Sukrungruang’s life are complex and real on the page, characters we know, have known, or want to know. Through scene-driven storytelling, readers will feel this world, this immigrant life is familiar; through subtle insight and observation they will understand the strangeness of it. A vital addition to Asian American literature, this book is also, quintessentially, American literature, and from the X-Men to temple, from “karate” lessons in a friend’s back yard to the unique spices of Thai food, sure to appeal to a wide variety of readers.
This anthology of thirty works by some of our best contemporary American writers looks at our perennial American obsession: fat. It’s everywhere, all around you, and maybe even on you. Now, America’s consuming passion at last has its own anthology. From Andre Dubus’s delicious story of a young woman more comfortable in her fat body than her thin one (“The Fat Girl”), to Tobias Wolff’s tale of bonding over pancakes (“Hunters in the Snow”), Dorothy Allison’s poem about food and love (“Dumpling Child”), Peter Carey’s surreal tale of a fat-man revolution (“The Fat Man in History”), Wesley McNair’s poetic celebration “Fat Heaven”, and George Saunders’s “The 400-pound CEO,” this bountiful feast of fiction and poetry will ensure no reader ever looks at fat quite the same way again.