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Southside Buddhist: Essays

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9781597321242: Southside Buddhist: Essays
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Carrying forward the themes and spirit of his previous memoir, Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy, and his book of poems, In Thailand It Is Night, Ira Sukrungruang brings humor, insight, and lyricism to his new collection of personal essays, Southside Buddhist. Here he cruises Chicago streets, treks Southern Illinois forests, wrestles with his ever-expanding body, and contemplates the complexities of the Thai immigrant life. He finds solace with his imaginary friend, Buddha; causes mischief with the boys in his working-class neighborhood; battles depression and suicide; and marries the whitest woman in the world, who teaches him to appreciate a world blessed by the absence of concrete, skyscrapers, and noise. This book searches for the truth of his memories, the truth of himself - a very Buddhist notion - while navigating the tricky terrains of urban and rural life with increasing awareness of what it means to be an immigrant son.

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About the Author:

Ira Sukrungruang is the author of the memoir Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy and coeditor of two anthologies: What Are You Looking At? The First Fat Fiction Anthology and Scoot Over, Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology. His first book of poetry, In Thailand It Is Night, won the Anita Claire Scharf Award and was published in 2013 by the University of Tampa Press. His work has appeared in many journals, including Post Road, The Sun, Witness, Ninth Letter, Buddhist Poetry Review, and Creative Nonfiction. He teaches in the MFA program at the University of South Florida.

Review:

"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 a mesmerizing look at the landscape of America from the southside of most everything and everywhere." --Shawn Wong, author of American Knees --Review

"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, author of Season of the Body --Review

"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, author of The Bright Forever --Review

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