My new book to be published in Japan is entitled 新しい目の旅立ち in Japanese, which, I’ve been told, translates as “a journey with new eyes” or “new eyes journey.” It was published in Thai as ตื่นบนเตียงอื่น or “waking up on a different bed.”
The book is made up of essays about my research trip on an island in the Philippines called Siquijor. Siquijor is sometimes regarded as “black magic island” by the Filipinos because of its famous “mananambal” (healers), shamans, witch doctors and the likes. I had never heard of Siquijor before arriving in the Philippines for my research (on art and nature among the indigenous peoples), but several random passing comments about the island in conversations with writers and artists caught my interest. I was actually warned by a few people not to go, because “things happen to people who visit Siquijor.” So naturally I went there.
But the book is not really about Siquijor, which, by the way, is beautiful and, as far as could tell, black magic-free. It’s more like a journal in which I recorded my reflections on the meaning of nature, taking some of the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza’s pantheistic ideas as my guiding inspiration.
The Japanese translation was done by Fukutomi Sho, and it was serialized in Azuma Hiroki‘s GENRON journal throughout 2018-19. I was thrilled to receive the news that Azuma wanted to include this work of mine in his journal, as I had read and admired his work. Now the thrill continues with the book getting its release in Japan in January 2020.
I wrote a feature article for Culture Trip, on the last 3 metal-type typesetters at Bangkok’s (and most likely Thailand’s) last metal-type letterpress print shop. The shop was already preparing to close when I visited and talked to the typesetters, and just a few weeks before this article was published it did.
I don’t have any information about the fate of the 3 typesetters, all of whom are over 60, but I believe another Bangkok print shop, Parppim, had purchased many of the old letterpress machines in order to preserve them.
I was commissioned by Gloomphim House, a Thai indie press, to design the cover for their book, วรรณกรรมดำดิ่ง (literally “literature takes a dive” or “literary dives”). The main request was to have a unique typeface for the title. I came up with this design, an effort to create a downward motion with a kind of “weathered surface” feel in the typeface.
The book is a collection of essays on various literary works, written by the award-winning critic Jirat Chalermsanyakon (จิรัฏฐ์ เฉลิมแสนยากร), who is also a talented fiction writer in his own right.
Here’s my cover design for the Thai translation of a collection of 22 essays by George Orwell. The book is published by Typhoon Studio this month. All essays were translated from English and French by Bancha Suwannanondha, who also translated Orwell’s Animal Farm, Burmese Days, and Down and Out in Paris and London for Typhoon Studio. Most of Orwell’s famous essays, such as “Books VS Cigarettes” and “Shooting an Elephant,” are included in the book.
The Thai title of the book is taken not from any of the essay titles but from the last sentence of “Literature and Totalitarianism,” in which Orwell writes: Whoever feels the value of literature, whoever sees the central part it plays in the development of human history, must also see the life and death necessity of resisting totalitarianism, whether it is imposed on us from without or from within. The title is “The Life and Death Necessity of Resisting Totalitarianism,” and the Thai is an almost exact translation.
I came up with two design directions for the cover and liked both. So we asked the readers to help and vote for the one they would like us to use. This is the winner.
I am happy to report that so far my short film “Transmissions of Unwanted Pasts” has been an official selection at four international film festivals and won the February 2019 Best Sci-fi Short and Best Actress (for Kamolsuang Aksharanugraha) awards at the Global Film Festival Awards in Los Angeles. Our little team is so thrilled by all of this.
My first book translated into Chinese is available in Taiwan today, April 1st! It’s the same story collection that was translated into English as The Sad Part Was. This is all very exciting in itself, obviously, but there’s also something that sets this version of my story collection apart from the previous versions in other languages: the overall concept for the book.
The title, (P), is unusual. The publisher, Fever, told me they saw it as an abstract symbol, not a word. I was impressed with the decision to use this as the title as it felt so commercially risky. They say they are more interested in taking an approach that’s “different” rather than predictable. I really appreciate that spirit.
The design of the book is also abstract, using textured black paper and minimalistic elements to produce an object that is both elegant and mysterious to hold. The actual book slides out of a paper case with a cutout design that creates a subtle optical illusion. The whole package almost turns this collection into a conceptual art book.
I made this illustration for the new cover (second print-run) of the Thai translation (by Kong Pahurak) of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, published by Typhoon Books. The general intention was to make it look like a movie poster in a poppy symbolist style, or a panel from a weird graphic novel. It’s not a style of drawing I do very often, but I really wish I had an ongoing project that required this kind of work because it’s so enjoyable and satisfying.
My new short film, “Transmissions of Unwanted Pasts” (“วงโคจรของความทรงจำ”), will have its premiere at the Columbia Institute of Ideas and Imagination in Paris on February 7th. The screening is part of the festival “KEMBARA: Adventures in the Artistic Landscape of South East Asia” curated by Tash Aw. I am grateful for the invitation and the support from Tash and the institute. Also, the film could not have been made so smoothly without the generosity of my old and new friends: brilliant cinematographer Chananun Chotrungroj (who shot my first feature, “Motel Mist”), Chantana Tiprachart (assistance in all things), Tippawan Roomfour (who introduced me to the wonderful main cast, Kamolsuang Aksharanugraha and Gandhi Wasuvitchayagit), Phil Chapavich Temnitikul (music), Yo Thanissorn and his art team), Monkum Khukhuntin, 9HQ design (editing and effects), Lee Chatametikool and his White Light Post team (postproduction), Rit Kalayanamitr (sound design), Anuwat Amnajkasem (production manager), and many more. Thank you!
The Columbia Institute of Ideas and Imagination is at the Reid Hall in Montparnasse. The screening will be at 7 PM. For more information and updates please follow the institute’s Facebook page.
หนังสั้นเรื่องใหม่ของผม (หลังจากไม่ได้ทำหนังสั้นมานานมากกก) ชื่อ “วงโคจรของความทรงจำ” หรือ “Transmissions of Unwanted Pasts” จะฉายเป็นครั้งแรกในกรุงปารีส วันที่ 7 ก.พ. นี้ เวลา 19.00 น. ณ สถาบัน Columbia Institute of Ideas and Imagination (กด link ไปเผจของสถาบันได้ด้านบนสำหรับข้อมูลเพิ่มเติม)
I remember feeling excited to see “Eyes Wide Shut”, the film that would become Stanley Kubrick’s swan song, when it was released in 1999. I also remember my disappointment after having seen it. But the film introduced me to Traumnovelle, the Arthur Schnitzler novella that inspired Kubrick. This small, somewhat overlooked gem became one of my favorite works of literature.
While I was overseeing international relations for the Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand from 2013-17, I had the opportunity to visit some international book fairs annually. There was one book that always caught my eyes every time I stopped to browse at the Goethe Institut stand. (The Goethe Institut has a beautiful stand at probably every big international book fairs.) It was Jakob Hinrichs’ graphic interpretation of the Schnitzler masterpiece, also entitled Traumnovelle. I admired the artist’s visual sense, his lines, his use of colors, and the book was beautifully designed and produced. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that it included Schnitzler’s original German text in its entirety.
In 2016, when I was to curate a book-related exhibition for the second Bangkok Book Festival at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Jakob Hinrichs’ graphic novel came to mind almost immediately. The Goethe Institut in Thailand was on board to support the show, and when Jakob was approached about it he accepted the idea with enthusiasm. The exhibition consisted of enlarged reproductions of selected pages from his book and Jakob, Berlin based, was invited to come to Bangkok and conduct a couple of workshops. Jakob and I became friends, and in less than a year later, when I was in Berlin for a second launch event of The Sad Part Was, Jakob invited me to visit his studio in Mitte.
Even after all that, I didn’t expect to be the one taking on the task of getting Jakob and Schnitzler’s Traumnovelle translated and published in Thailand. But here it is, the Thai language version of this beautiful graphic novel and great modern literature. Fee Asavesna, a one-time actress—she was the leading actress in Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s feature film debut “Fun Bar Karaoke”—and cultish celebrity in the Thai indie scene, did an impressive job for a first-time translator.
I am proud to have been involved in getting this book out in Thailand.
Visit the Typhoon Studio website if you want a copy of the Thai Traumnovelle!