I was introduced to José Luís Peixoto at a riverside hotel in Bangkok and we spoke over a buffet lunch. (The first personal thing I learned about Peixoto was that he’s crazy for buffets.)
There was a mutual connection between us right away, not only because of the obvious facts that we are both writers from the same generation, but because we seem to share a similar sense of wanderlust. Peixoto had been to Thailand before and even written a book about it. I had yet to visit Portugal, but I met him at a time when Portugal was for some reason constantly on my mind. I had for a long time romanticized about Portugal, particularly Lisbon, mostly by way of Fernando Pessoa’s writings, but it always felt like a such a faraway land, a place I might never have a chance to see for myself in this lifetime. Then I started to have a strong yearning to go there, just shortly before Peixoto turned up.
The first time I ever visited Portugal was in 2018, and it happened because of Peixoto’s recommendation. I participated in a literary festival that was organized as one of the healing programs for the communities that were devastated by the 2017 wildfires in central Portugal. It was an incredible opportunity, because I got to see much more of Portugal than I would’ve been able to as a tourist. The festival took me to rural parts of the country, very small towns and provincial communities. I was probably the first Thai person ever to set foot in many of those places. To put it another way, I had the chance to see and feel what Galveias would be like on my very first trip to Portugal.
Galveias is Peixoto’s hometown. When we discussed the possibility of translating his work into Thai, Peixoto suggested Galveias without hesitation. From what I gather, it’s not his most popular book in Portugal, but he wants his foreign readers to know what Portuguese culture in a place like Galveias is like, rather than to present yet again the already famous cities like Lisbon and Porto. To be honest, I didn’t really understand his choice until I was finally able to read Galveias. It’s an honest and charming book about Portugal that’s hard to come by in other languages. Thai people can easily find reading materials about Lisbon or Porto, but Galveias offers a rare glimpse into the heart of Portugal that has never been available to the Thai readers before. As editor, designer and publisher, I am proud to play a small role in bringing this book to Thailand.
Many thanks to José Luís Peixoto, the Embassy of Portugal in Bangkok, and the translation grant from The General Directorate for Book, Archives and Libraries (DGLAB) of Portugal’s Ministry of Culture for making this possible.
เขียนโดย โจเซ ลูอิส เปโชตู
แปลโดย ลัลน์ลลิต สมานุหัตถ์
พิมพ์ครั้งที่ 1 ตุลาคม 2563 (416 หน้า)