Posts by Mui Poopoksakul

Translation Tuesday: “The Awaiter” by Duanwad Pimwana

We coexisted in close proximity on this planet. Even so, we led a solitary existence... What right did a person have to demand something of others?

I never had any luck, perhaps because I never thought of it, and it probably didn’t think of me. Yet something now lay at my feet. That it had to show up there was no mere contingency. I could have easily stepped over it or veered to the side. Somebody whisking about in the vicinity would have picked it up; he probably would have grinned and chalked it up to his lucky day. But I hadn’t moved aside, and as long as I stood in place and glanced calmly at it down by my feet, others could only steal a wistful glimpse. Some might have regretted walking a tad too fast; if they had been slower, they could have become its possessor. Some might have reasoned, siding with themselves, that they spotted it even before I did, but they were a step too slow. Regardless, I picked up the money, without concluding as of yet whether it was my luck or not.

That evening at the tail end of the monsoon season, I happened to walk by a crowded bus stop even though it was not on my way home and I had no purpose for taking that route. The money lay fallen behind a bus. When I bent down to pick it up, the hot air from the exhaust pipe spurted onto my face as I unfurled myself back to standing. A pair of eyes darted at me. Its owner walked toward me with a face painted with an uncertain smile. I knew his intentions immediately. While I myself was unsure of my status in relation to the money at that instant, one thing of which I was absolutely certain was: the man approaching was not the owner of the money—but he wanted to be.


What We’re Reading in April

“Full of startling colours, and featuring scenes both disturbing and erotic, The Vegetarian is the most powerful novel I have read this year.”

Ellen Jones (criticism editor): Three of the best things I’ve read this month have been slim, 100-odd-page volumes in translation. The first is Takashi Hiraide’s The Guest Cat, translated from Japanese by Eric Selland. The book was recommended by a great lover of cats who insisted I read it in hard copy rather than on my Kindle for the hypnotisingly green feline eyes on the book’s jacket. My family has always had cats, a number of them so embarrassingly rotund—despite years of controlled diets—that we’ve had to wonder whether a well-meaning neighbour wasn’t regularly spoiling them with choice titbits from the table or bowlfuls of cream. So I found much to relate to in this quiet story of a young couple’s relationship with a local cat, whose daily visits revitalise their marriage and ignite an enthusiasm for gardening. Hiraide’s writing (he is primarily a poet) had rarely been translated before, but The Guest Cat has become a bestseller in the United States, France, and now Britain; the ubiquity and inexhaustible popularity of cat photos and videos on social media speak volumes about this book’s potential appeal. But there is so much more to it than a plot summary might suggest—it meditates on the transience of life and beauty, and masterfully maps out a domestic space with the precision of an architect. This is undoubtedly a book for cat people and dog people alike.