Proglen

Publisher info

Proglen is Thailand's oldest online bookstore. It specializes in English and other European language books published in Thailand. Thailand is fortunate to have so many publishers with good books covering the Southeast Asian region in both fiction and non-fiction. Dipping our toes into the eBooks explosion is our latest endeavour.

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The Fool's Best Joke Book Volume 1
By Neil Hutchison
Series: Fool in Paradise. Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 138,740. Language: English. Published: March 29, 2014 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
Welcome to the world of humour. What makes human beings laugh can be broadly defined under three headings: someone else's misfortune, someone else's misunderstanding or someone else's stupidity. The keywords here are "someone else's" because, let's face it, most silly things are much funnier when they happen to someone else.
Jim Tully
By Anthony Aikman
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 79,950. Language: English. Published: March 22, 2014 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
Jim Tully is a misfit who belongs to an earlier era. The causes he believes in, like the world he wants to live in, are already doomed. The narrator first meets him during a student riot in Paris and finds him again more than twenty years later in Thailand. In between Tully has drifted around the world, tossed from one noble cause to another, even being imprisoned by the Khmer Rouge.
Sweet Song of the Siren and Other Stories
By William Peskett
Series: Mango and Sticky Rice. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 51,330. Language: English. Published: February 21, 2014 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
In his third collection of short stories, Thailand-based author William Peskett introduces us to a murderer who sees himself carved in stone, a writer whose dead wife returns to him through time, a robot community waiting for their saviour, a man who falls in love with part of his own body, a woman dying slowly of dementia and a troupe of wise-cracking monkeys.
The Reckoning
By Jim Newport
Series: Vampire of Siam, Book 3. Price: $7.95 USD. Words: 67,330. Language: English. Published: February 21, 2014 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
From Paris to Angkor Wat, Ancient Siam to modern-day Bangkok, the vampire seeks the secrets of his past. Ramonne Delacroix, 175-year-old French vampire once again crosses paths with Martin Larue while retracing the historical journey that he made in 1858 with Henri Mouhot to Indochina. Martin has founded an orphanage in Cambodia outside the gates of Angkor.
Mist on the Jungle
By William Peskett
Series: Mango and Sticky Rice. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 50,970. Language: English. Published: January 17, 2014 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
Mist on the Jungle and Other Stories by William Peskett A lascivious businessman who prefers lady-boys to ladies, a depressed captain who threatens to sink his own ferry, a woman who eats more than food, and a Thai widow finding her late husband’s roots in Crete—these are just some of the engaging characters who appear in this original collection of short stories.
Mango and Sticky Rice
By William Peskett
Series: Mango and Sticky Rice. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 50,910. Language: English. Published: January 17, 2014 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
Mango and Sticky Rice and Other Stories by William Peskett A photographer hired to witness a murder, a colour-blind sperm donor, a ghost who misses his friends, a Canadian in Pattaya who pretends he’s from Latvia, and a woman sure her children’s will be the last human generation—these are just some of the fascinating characters with leading roles in this poignant collection of short stories.
If You Can’t Stand the Fun, Stay Out of the Go-Go
By William Peskett
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 50,030. Language: English. Published: January 11, 2014 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
Go-go bars as a cultural asset, dentists, chicken's feet, soapy massage, trousers, being struck by lightning, tattoos, luck, breast enhancements, beards and being a foreigner—these are just some of the aspects of living in Pattaya, Thailand's most exciting city, that come within range of this lively and revealing book.
Ramonne: The Return of the Vampire of Siam
By Jim Newport
Series: Vampire of Siam, Book 2. Price: $7.95 USD. Words: 51,690. Language: English. Published: January 11, 2014 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
The Vampire of Siam is back — with a vengeance Martin Larue’s blood-soaked encounter with a 175 year-old vampire has left him a changed man. For twelve months he donned the orange robes of the monk and studied the teachings of Buddha. His transcendent nirvana is shattered by a police lieutenant who seeks his help in tracking down a killer — a killer who drains the blood of his victims.
Bhutanese Tales of the Yeti
By Kunzang Choden
Price: $7.95 USD. Words: 43,590. Language: English. Published: December 14, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
Bhutanese Tales of the Yeti is a collection of twenty-two stories set in four different regions of Bhutan. The presence of the yeti is ubiquitous to the kingdoms of the Himalayas, where beliefs and attitudes related to it go beyond scientific judgment and analysis. The Bhutanese consider the yeti, or the migoi, to be an essential part of the backdrop of their existence.
The Bangkok Writers
By DCO
Price: Free! Words: 43,240. Language: English. Published: December 2, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
The Bangkok Writers: Tales from the other City of Angels. There is another City of Angels apart from Los Angeles. It is Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. Its Thai name, Krung Thep, means City of Angels. For many visitors Bangkok lives up to its name far better than LA. It is with great pleasure that I can introduce some of the best English language writers based in Bangkok .
The Stone Buddha's Tears
By S.P. Somtow
Price: $7.95 USD. Words: 28,260. Language: English. Published: December 2, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
S.P. Somtow's novel The Stone Buddha's Tears was inspired by a real-life incident in 1991 in which the city of Bangkok, about to host an international conference, decided to throw up a corrugated iron fence around a slum in order to conceal it from passing delegates. Two boys concoct a team of street kids, taxi drivers and elephant herders in a wild plan to bring down the fence.
Running with the Sharks
By James Eckardt
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 57,280. Language: English. Published: December 1, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
Running with the Sharks is a novel of stark human conflict set in the lawless isolation of an uninhabited island off Thailand’s Andaman coast.
Opus 50
By S.P. Somtow
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 103,060. Language: English. Published: November 24, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
S.P.Somtow has assembled a collection of essays, poems, and fiction - and tells all about his first published poem from 1967, which earned a lengthy shelf life when it was used as the epigraph for a best-selling autobiography by Shirley MacLaine - to his first professional fiction sale in 1977 - to stories that won major awards like the World Fantasy Award.
Thai Lite
By S. Tsow
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 73,020. Language: English. Published: November 20, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
The selected scribblings of S. Tsow - linguist, theologian, philosopher and sage-in-residence of the City of Angels - writes authoritatively and eloquently on the burning issues of our time: the scourge of cellphones, the escalating price of noodles, the inanity of political correctness, not to mention beer drinking, bad medicine, backpacking in the old days and the boisterous bedlam of Bangkok.
Chasing Jimi
By Jim Newport
Price: $7.95 USD. Words: 53,650. Language: English. Published: November 17, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
A novel by Jim Newport. Chasing Jimi is a rock ‘n’ roll period piece. It spans one year - the summer of 1966 to the summer of 1967. From New York’s Greenwich Village to swinging London to the stage of the Monterey Pop Festival. It follows the ascension of one Jimmy James, a struggling back-up guitar player, to the exalted throne of rock-god superstardom.
PostScript: Forgotten But Not Gone
By Roger Crutchley
Price: $3.95 USD. Words: 36,540. Language: English. Published: October 30, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
After his last book, PostScript, many thought Crutch would do the decent thing and consent to being put out to pasture without little more than a whimper. But you can't keep an old dog down and he kept on and on and on with his Sunday column in the Outlook section of the Bangkok Post. Well, it does good paper bag material after all.
The Vampire of Siam
By Jim Newport
Series: Vampire of Siam, Book 1. Price: $7.95 USD. Words: 48,490. Language: English. Published: October 21, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
Book one of the The Vampire of Siam trilogy. In The Vampire of Siam a nineteenth-century explorer, Ramonne Delacroix, encounters an ancient Chinese demon in the temples of Angkor Wat. His subsequent nocturnal transformation leads him to the capital of Siam, where he witnesses the coronation of kings and the city’s metamorphosis into the modern day sin-city of Bangkok.
Dragon's Fin Soup
By S.P. Somtow
Price: $7.95 USD. Words: 70,100. Language: English. Published: October 18, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
Dragon's Fin Soup: And Other Modern Siamese Fables by World Fantasy Award Winner S.P. Somtow. Eight Rowdy Tales where East and West don't meet - they collide. Eight Frightening Ruminations where nothing is as it seems, and even the unreal is an illusion. Eight Delectable Servings that could only have sprung from the fevered mind of S.P. Somtow.
What’s Your Name I’m Fine Thank You
By Roger Beaumont
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 48,240. Language: English. Published: October 11, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
These finely-crafted stories and articles were originally published in Bangkok Metro magazine and The Nation newspaper. Written between 1994 and 1998, they appeared in Metro under the column title "Mugged by Reality" and in The Nation as "Slightly Out of Focus". Factually sweetened, slightly surreal, occasionally critical, but always biting and hilarious.
Jasmine Nights
By S.P. Somtow
Price: $9.95 USD. Words: 127,680. Language: English. Published: October 10, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
At twelve years old, Little Frog has a richly fantastic and sustaining inner life. It is 1963, his parents have disappeared, and he lives with his maiden aunts, known affectionately as the Three Fates, on a family estate in Bangkok. But, fed by a steam of books and accompanied by his pet chameleon, Little Frog refuses to accept that he is Thai; eats English food; speaks only English...
Boat People
By James Eckardt
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 96,120. Language: English. Published: October 9, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
Boat People is a panoramic novel of greed and compassion, violence and family love, desperation and hope. It is September 1981, the high tide of boat people flight from Vietnam. From the Mekong Delta port of Rach Gia, one boat, crammed with fishermen, farmers, political refugees, and urban hustlers, runs a 300-mile gauntlet of pirates and storms for the safe haven of Songkhla Refugee Camp.
Zoom Top: Australia’s Greatest Greyhound
By Duncan Stearn
Price: $9.95 USD. Words: 15,840. Language: English. Published: October 9, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
At the end of 1968 the muscular Zoom Top was already regarded by many as one of greatest racing greyhounds Australia had ever seen. By the time recurring injury forced her into retirement in early 1970, Zoom Top had swept all before her in a series of thrilling victories, downing some of the best racers in the country over a variety of distances.
From Peasant Girls to Bangkok Masseuses
By Pasuk Phongpaichit
Price: $3.95 USD. Words: 27,100. Language: English. Published: October 4, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
In the poorer parts of the north and north-east of Thailand, peasant girls are induced to go to Bangkok and become prostitutes earning their living as "masseuses". Their remittances enable their families to meet their basic housing, water and education needs. The author portrays the world of these girls and then traces its relationship with the pattern of rural and national development.
Afghanistan: Lashkar Gah - Home of the Warriors Part II
By Leonard H. Le Blanc III
Series: Afghanistan: Lashkar Gah - Home of the Warriors, Book 2. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 80,400. Language: English. Published: September 16, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
Second and final part of this personal memoir of a year in Afghanistan. From 2007 to 2008 an American served as an adviser to an Afghan-led counter-narcotics advisory team in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province. This is the scene of half the world's opium poppy production and a raging Taliban insurgency. It is a microcosm of why U.S. efforts failed in Afghanistan.
The Vanishing Traces
By Iftekhar Ahmed
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 6,900. Language: English. Published: September 3, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
The Vanishing Traces: Vernacular Housing of the Chittagong Hill Tracts is a study of eleven minorities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region of Bangladesh and their dwellings. It is a unique documentation of this architecture. Illustrated with 165 B&W photographs and 1 map.
Letters From Leonard
By S.E. Kennedy
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 213,970. Language: English. Published: August 29, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
When Paul receives a phone call telling him his best friend has committed suicide, he begins reading Leonard's old letters in an effort to find out why. This turns into a journey of discovery as Paul becomes obsessed with tracing his friend's steps over the last days and months of his life. Along the way, he comes face to face with his own demons and self-destructive nature.
Verratene Liebe!
By Peter Berger
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 49,320. Language: German. Published: August 9, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
Der in die Jahre gekommene Rockmusiker Old Bergi will als Frühpensionär auf Zypern seinen Lebensabend verbringen. Die »Insel der Liebe« entpuppt sich jedoch als Vorgarten der Hölle, weil ihm überraschend schnell und brutal ein Strich durch die Rechnung gemacht wird; nicht nur von seiner Jugendliebe und deren neuen Liebhaber, sondern auch von den »Damen der Nacht« und deren Zuhältern.
Afghanistan: Lashkar Gah - Home of the Warriors Part I
By Leonard H. Le Blanc III
Series: Afghanistan: Lashkar Gah - Home of the Warriors, Book 1. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 98,570. Language: English. Published: August 8, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
From 2007 to 2008 an American served as an adviser to an Afghan-led counter-narcotics advisory team in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province. This was, and still is, the scene of half the world's opium poppy production and ground center zero of a raging Taliban-fueled insurgency. It is a microcosm of why U.S. efforts failed in Afghanistan - the damage was all self-inflicted.
Evil in the Land Without
By Colin Cotterill
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 78,100. Language: English. Published: July 16, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
Evil in the Land Without By Colin Cotterill A thrilling chase for a child abuser and murderer that spans three continents, Europe, Africa and Asia. The English detective's own family is at risk as he attempts to find a most evil man. Evil in the Land Without was Colin Cotterill's second novel published in 2003 by Asia Books.
White Lotus / Black Son
By Ricardo Guanot
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 45,390. Language: English. Published: July 8, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
A Thai journey into a sexual heart of darkness. A disturbing mystery novel of a family's disintegration, corrupted by its incestuous past. This is not a novel that will let you sleep easily.
Thailand
By Leonard H. Le Blanc III
Series: U-Tapao Airbase, Book 2. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 74,580. Language: English. Published: July 4, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
Sequel to AIR BASE by Leonard H. Le Blanc III. The continuation of the military detective mystery set at U-Tapao Royal Thai Naval Air Base, Thailand, right at the end of the Vietnam War. It involves a young US Air Force Security Police officer and his attempt to solve a massive Thai-operated theft ring on the base.
A Fool's Diary
By Neil Hutchison
Series: Fool in Paradise, Book 3. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 94,080. Language: English. Published: July 4, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
Imagine leaving the comfort zone of your home, family and friends to venture into the unknown. Imagine discovering an alien paradise only to realize that here, you are the alien who has to try to fit into your new environment. Imagine stumbling through a year of discovery among a tapestry of blunders and imagine that, all the while, you don't have a clue what you are doing. Read A Fool's Diary
Dream Weaver
By Olin Powers
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 105,560. Language: English. Published: June 25, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
Franks Evans, US Marine, CIA Operative. Johnny Gould, disheartened California dreamer. Harry Doughty, happy-go-lucky incorrigible rascal. Ansel Bean, privileged nerd, misanthrope. Collect the above, add a sundry of stunning Asian temptresses, barons of industry, and intractable washouts and the reader is served a feast of erotic adventure, delight, passion, illusion, tragedy and ruin.
Schöne Abenteuer
By J. Toring
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 48,490. Language: German. Published: June 21, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
Der hauptsächliche und entscheidende Beweggrund für J.Torings Weltreisen ist seine Suche nach Abenteuern. In seinen Berichten können Sie jedoch nichts Abscheuliches, Blutrünstiges oder gar Kriminelles finden. Seine Abenteuer sind amüsant, romantisch, spannend und informativ. Er lebt zurzeit in Jomtien/Thailand und plant seine nächsten Reisen.
The Fool is Back
By Neil Hutchison
Series: Fool in Paradise, Book 2. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 73,500. Language: English. Published: June 21, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
By the author of the Pattaya best seller Money Number One and the updated Money Still Number One, this the sequel to A Fool in Paradise, adding a further 32 stories to the colourful tapestry that is Pattaya, Thailand. In the opinion of many people including the author, Pattaya is the most wonderful place on the planet. As with A fool in Paradise, the stories are all true or based on true events.
Air Base
By Leonard H. Le Blanc III
Series: U-Tapao Airbase, Book 1. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 75,780. Language: English. Published: June 21, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
A US military detective mystery set at U-Tapao Royal Thai Naval Air Base, Thailand, right at the end of the Vietnam War. Air Base involves two young US Air Force Security Police officers in their attempt to solve a massive Thai-operated theft ring on the base.
Money Number One
By Neil Hutchison
Series: Fool in Paradise. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 61,550. Language: English. Published: May 13, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
Enter Pattaya with your eyes wide open, not like a lamb to the slaughter. The original guide to Pattaya by Neil Hutchison, author of A Fool in Paradise.
Soi Shanties: Second Helpings
By Les Abbey
Series: Soi Shanties, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 29,590. Language: English. Published: May 1, 2013 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
Les Abbey has been a regular contributor of short stories to the Pattaya Trader magazine for last few years. These 29 stories in the second volume of Sea Shanties date from late 2010 through to the beginning of 2013. All the stories are set on, or at least start from, a road full of bars which looks very similar to the Soi Cowboy nightlife district in Bangkok.
Chronicles of Nightmarch
By Duncan Stearn
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 367,800. Language: English. Published: December 27, 2012 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
This compilation of the columns of Nightmarch covers its beginnings in the Pattaya Mail newspaper in June 2000 and goes all the way through to its conclusion in the Pattaya One newspaper in September 2011. Almost unwittingly it provides an interesting social history of the growth of the nightlife scene in Pattaya in the first decade of the twenty-first century. This volume also includes items tha
Trafalgar & Josh
By Terence Teasdale
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 107,320. Language: English. Published: December 11, 2012 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
It is spring in Sydney. Dr Trafalgar Trayson, a celebrated psychiatrist working overseas returns to Australia. After twenty years of marriage and three children, he sacrifices his career, marriage, and family by falling in love with Josh, a young Maltese man separated from his parents. It is a story of turmoil and love and heart-wrenching consequences: a love that has a devastating end.
How to Survive Pattaya and its Nightlife
By Duncan Stearn
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 10,000. Language: English. Published: October 30, 2012 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
How to Survive Pattaya and its Nightlife is advice to do just that from the leading Pattaya nightlife writer, Australian journalist Duncan Stearn.
Our Man in Pattaya Volume 2
By Duncan Stearn
Price: $7.95 USD. Words: 28,440. Language: English. Published: June 28, 2012 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
Our Man in Pattaya is regular column in the Pattaya Trader written by Australian journalist Duncan Stearn. Here is the second collection for your enjoyment.
Why Preah Vihear Should be Returned to Thailand
By Duncan Stearn
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 6,620. Language: English. Published: June 11, 2012 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
Journalist Duncan Stearn takes a closer look at the International Court of Justice ruling on the border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple ruins and changes his view on which country is in the right.
Wondering into Thai Culture
By Mont Redmond
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 100,190. Language: English. Published: June 9, 2012 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
Wondering into Thai Culture by Mont Redmond Or Thai Whys and Otherwise New 2012 Edition A timeless work, first published as articles in The Nation and then printed as a book and reprinted several times.
Our Man in Pattaya
By Duncan Stearn
Price: $7.95 USD. Words: 32,550. Language: English. Published: June 9, 2012 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
Our Man in Pattaya by Duncan Stearn, the author of Pattaya, Patpong on Steroids. Come for a walk on the wacky side as Pattaya and its locals and foreigners come together in a collection of the best of the popular Our Man in Pattaya monthly columns from the pages of the Pattaya Trader (also published by the Phuket Gazette newspaper under the title Streets of Pattaya).
Pool and its Role in Asian Communism
By Colin Cotterill
Price: $7.95 USD. Words: 71,700. Language: English. Published: April 28, 2012 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
A funny and moving tale set during the secret war in Laos.
7 Tips for Long-Term Online Gambling Success
By Duncan Stearn
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 9,110. Language: English. Published: April 14, 2012 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
Are you tired of losing? Then become a winner. Why lose your hard-earned money at the races when you could come out ahead? Even if you are a net winner you just know you could be even more profitable? This book, which you can read in less than a couple of hours, represents more than 40 years of accumulated knowledge!
Opium in Thailand
By Duncan Stearn
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 7,230. Language: English. Published: January 11, 2012 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
Opium in Thailand traces the history of the trade from its beginnings in the late 17th century and its imposition by the British as a trading item on Siam through to the rise of the famed Golden Triangle and the attempts at suppression from the 1960s onwards.
Losing the Plot
By C. Woww
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 99,360. Language: English. Published: December 3, 2011 by Proglen. Category: Fiction
A Saga of Sex, Lies and Politics in a South East Asian Setting.
Tarts, Touts and Temples
By Duncan Stearn
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 23,800. Language: English. Published: September 30, 2011 by Proglen. Category: Nonfiction
In Tarts, Touts and Temples, author Duncan Stearn recounts a series of trips and adventures to which many who have been to Southeast Asia can relate. All are true, even if some sound fanciful or a bit too true to be believed.
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Smashwords book reviews by Proglen

  • The Book of Answers on July 18, 2011
    star star star star star
    Reviewer--Collin Piprell (www.collinpiprell.com). I had the pleasure of reading an early review copy of C.Y. Gopinath's debut novel. *The Book of Answers* promises even greater success than his globetrotting chronicle *Travels with the Fish( (HarperCollins India, 1999). Released just this month, also by HarperCollins India, *The Book of Answers* has already appeared on the bestseller list in that country. I’m going to don my “let’s pitch this book to a modern market” hat, something I find hard to do with my own books and hesitate to do with Gopinath’s debut novel for fear of doing it an injustice. Anyway, here goes: Think, an Indian Jonathan Swift turns to magical realism with a message for readers everywhere. Alternatively, we could describe the novel as a fabulist satire wherein a Clarke Kent hero represents the potential of Everyman to take a stand and fight against those absurd and often evil (often bureaucratic) forces that shape our lives. Readers in Thailand might almost believe that former and newly de facto PM Thaksin Shinawatra had seen the book in manuscript and used it as a manual for retaking power. The book is compulsively readable. I found myself reluctant to skim passages for fear of missing any of the gems scattered across every page. Gopinath sketches his hugely entertaining characters with sure and economical strokes. I enjoyed all of them, from the Convener and the godman to B Plus and the “doctor of venereal diseases,” with his very entertaining medical examination of Pat and Rose, the central characters. The author’s treatment of Indian English, meanwhile, is both warmly funny and minimalist, in no way obtrusive. In the course of one entertaining dialogue, for example, “codswallop” devolves by stages into “shit,” the speaker’s Anglophiliac try for elegance nicely derailed. “More banging for a buck,” in another conversation, is enough to comically conjure, without further ado, the voice Gopinath wanted. “Gourment” (see the extract, below) is how Indian bureaucrats pronounce “government,” and it includes connotations sorely missing in the conventional expression. The book is also a structural success. Among other features, it presents an excellent conclusion, something too many otherwise good novels lack. En route, Gopinath consistently leaves the reader hanging at the end of each chapter, wanting more, and introduces each successive chapter with a surprise. In the first chapter, the hero’s proto-obsessive compulsive negotiation of Mumbai's streets and his collision with the Fat Man is superbly realized. And what an idea is introduced shortly thereafter! A blind calligrapher of unknown provenance has inscribed wisdom for times not yet here in a mysterious tome known as The Book of Answers, recording details of the future produced by that calligrapher's lover, chief cook for a client's household. That’s followed hard upon by in introduction to “The Ministry of Errors and Regrets.” This venerable institution applies the principle of wringing every possible lesson from a mistake by repeating that error as often as possible. Gopinath adopts a wonderfully comic voice, kind of like Flann O'Brien describing a meeting chaired by the Mad Hatter, the agenda set by Kafka. (The latter individual would have appreciated a ministerial interview to determine whether Pat, the hero, and Rose, his companion, were rich or poor.) The story as a whole is a delightful tapestry woven from such threads as the eponymous Book of Answers itself; the Ministry for Errors and Regrets; Rose's scrapbook of omens; the dynamic between Pat, his friend Arindam, and Rose, who turns out to be Arindam's wife; Pat's comic love-life with Rose; and the rather moving development of Pat's relationship with his son Tippy, as Tippy himself is gradually revealed as much more than the klutz we first meet, the lad with “content-free eyes” tipped back in a chair chewing gum. Here’s just a taste from the hilariously barbed banquet: “We live in times of world ending. Kali yug, as we say in the scriptures. The Convener believes our country is in doldrums. Gourment is committed but man can only do so much. Shri Ishwar Prasad is facing challenges of lifetime, struggling with national problems such as upcoming elections, crime, literacy, terrorism, democracy, women's liberation, abortion, sexual slavery, judicial backlog, and a bankrupt treasury. While he is doing all this —” “We are not fooled,” said Rose. “Your boss heads a government in charge of pulling wool over people's eyes. The reality is that it’s a government of lies.” Her eyes blazed at the Convener’s Personal Assistant. “You make a good point,” Janki Ram continued reasonably. “But concept of pulling wool is rooted in Hindu philosophy and spirituality. Shri Ishwar Prasad says reality is overrated. It's a nice idea, of course, but it doesn't exist. The Convener’s only wants to make this acceptable to our struggling millions. He is not sidetracked by the facts. He is concerned with the truth.” Such ideas, expressed differently, figure prominently in another book I've just read. Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, by Chris Hedges, is a bleak jeremiad that appears to leave little option other than fleeing the planet. I prefer the darkly comic recourse offered by The Book of Answers. www.collinpiprell.com