marcel barang

Giving up

In English on 26/01/2015 at 10:14 am

Another Monday morning. Still nothing in the Post. On 8 December I sent Kong Rithdee, deputy editor of the Life section, a copy of my end-of-year anthology: A review of the book in the Post would be highly appreciated. Three days later, Khun Kong answered: I will find a reviewer for the book krub.

Another week and still not a blip from the Ministry of Culture. Sometime in July last year, it was agreed I’d edit the English section of a new, Indonesian-Thai anthology of short stories and poems for OCAC. In the last week of September, while still vacationing in France, I was sent a dozen poems I immediately processed. The translation of one poem had four lines missing. I asked for them. I’m still waiting. Ditto for the short stories. Something to do, I’m told, with the translator suffering from acute sinusitis!

For the whole of 2014, I’ve gone without an income: Sondhi Limthongkul’s largesse has reached its limit and it has taken us the entire year to be certain of it. My total earnings for the year, thanks to two commissions from the Association of Thai Writers and the Ministry of Culture, were of about eleven hundred euros or rather their equivalent in baht at the current rate.

Throughout the year I’ve nonetheless kept on translating and posting one Thai short story every other Friday – all out of my own pocket. I’m sure the two dozen Thai writers concerned will be eternally grateful, but enough of that.

After translating three or four dozen novels and something like a hundred and sixty short stories in two decades, I’ve pretty much dried up the Thai literary pool. That I’ve been able to do this is thanks to Khun Sondhi’s sponsorship. A few new works would be worth translating, but who is going to commission me, even at friendly or civil-service (cheap) rates?

And now, even my end-of-year anthology with its fourteen short stories, which probably will sell ten copies within a year or two (what’s going to happen to the website, hosted and run by Khun Sondhi’s people, hasn’t been discussed), can’t get a timely review in the main local English-language paper.

Serves me right, I reckon.

  1. Marcel the treatment that you have received is abysmal. It seems that all the world, including both Canada and Thailand, is forgetting the value of literature. Here in Canada the young are being urged to train for “Useful” careers. Funding for the Humanities is drying up. Grants to CBC radio and other arts is shrinking.
    Having laid out that lament, I want to say how important your work has been to me and members of my family. As you will recall it was your translation of Atsiri Thammachoat’s Of Time and Tide that led me back to Thailand 15 tears ago. Your translations adorn Anya’s and my book shelves from Vancouver to Bangkok. I have gifted your works to a number of young friends.
    Short version: You Can’t Give Up Now!

  2. Sorry to read this Marcel.

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