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Welcome Me to the Kingdom

A collection of stories by

Bangkok, 1980. As the decades pass, figures fall in and out of the relentless city: Pea and Nam, who arrive in search of a better life; a Thai Elvis impersonator and his only daughter, Pinky; Benz, Tintin and Big, a brotherhood of orphaned strayboys; Rick, the white American patriarch who abandons his Thai family when the going gets tough; Hasmah, whose bloody, hidden work is driven by secessionist rage. Sex tourism, Buddhist cults, gambling rings and skin-whitening routines threaten to take over a city reeling from financial crisis - in a nation constantly reinventing itself, anything can happen.

In the temples, slums, and gated estates of late-twentieth century Bangkok,
Welcome Me to the Kingdom exposes the schemes and strategies, the lies and betrayals, that inch its characters tantalisingly closer to 'the good life'. Wildly imaginative and ambitious, Mai Nardone's immersive debut announces the arrival of an extraordinary new voice, and captures the growing discrepancy between Thailand's smiling self-image and its ugly reverse. Seen through a haze of covert agreements and cigarette smoke, these unforgettable stories capture a kingdom caught between this world and the next.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"Astonishing. Relentless. Mai Nardone's interlocking stories of modern urban Thailand showcase spectacularly riveting settings and characters as they navigate desire, desperation, and survival." - Frances Cha

"Revelatory, unflinching, and gorgeously written . . . Mai Nardone's debut peers deep into the lives of Bangkok's street kids, sex workers, sex tourists, and the privileged bicultural, biracial, and often accidental beneficiaries of colonialism. Rarely does a work portray those clinging to the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder - and those guarding their position at the top - with such grace, nuance, and insight." - Jonathan Escoffery

"With cool precision, Mai Nardone steers us down the dark waterways of Bangkok and the darker waterways of human desire. Glittering, deft, and devastating, this is a tangle of stories you'll gladly be ensnared by. I could not be more excited that Southeast Asian literature counts a writer like Nardone among its ranks." - Violet Kupersmith

"A kaleidoscopic vision of Thailand as deep as it is broad. Muay Thai fighters, sex workers, family kitchens, territorial volunteer medics: If no one is saved, no one is exactly lost, either. In the precisely detailed lives of his characters, Nardone unearths real truths, both painful and uplifting, and with his singular prose leaves us wanting more." - Kawai Strong Washburn

"Welcome Me to the Kingdom transports readers to a Thailand that is gritty and lush, spangled and crumbling, aching with grit and ecstasy. Luck and want drive intertwined characters across a landscape that pulsates with life lived under unforgiving sun, and Mai Nardone is a writer with an atlas straight to the heart. I did not want to put this book down and neither will you." - C Pam Zhang

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