After all these years, he asked himself what he wanted and found no answer. He did not even know what wanting meant. And so, in the year between his annual visits to Thailand to see his family, he gave in to urges, both physical and emotional; found comfort in the body, many bodies; fought off the impulse to disappear, to vanish; until he arrived at some modicum of understanding. During this time, he sought to obliterate the stereotype of the sexless Asian man and began to imagine a new life with new possibilities.
Through ancient temples and the lush greenery of Thailand, to the confines of a stranger’s bed and a devouring couch, This Jade World chronicles a year of mishap, exploration and experimentation, self-discovery, and eventually, healing. It questions the very nature of love and heartbreak, uncovering the vulnerability of being human.
“In This Jade World, Sukrungruang offers us a prayer and a meditation on the beginnings and endings of love. The love of parents and their children. The love among men and women. The love between the skin we live in and the memories we house. In this rare and beautiful offering, we experience a man undone by love and his journey to salvage hope in the face of incredible loneliness and doubt, a search for salvation found first in a dream.”
—Kao Kalia Yang, author of Somewhere in the Unknown World and The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir
“It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that when seemingly happy couples break up we all wonder what the hell happened. In Ira Sukrungruang’s affecting and vulnerable memoir, This Jade World, he narrates the dissolution of one marriage and the burgeoning of another as a double love story, laced with wonder, grief, downward spirals, and mature reinventions. Set in both Thailand and the U.S., examined against an epic web of family domestic strife and rearrangement, this gorgeously written book illuminates the necessity and complexity of intimate joy.”
—Barrie Jean Borich, author of Body Geographic and Apocalypse, Darling
“This Jade World is compulsively readable—its short chapters are polished stones, each delightful by itself while leading us on to another, another, until we’ve walked the road through the author’s divorce and into his new life and love. Mostly set during his yearly visits to his family, Sukrungruang offers a keenly observed Thailand—the monks slipping their cellphones into their robes, the tattoo artist praying before pushing his needle into the author’s back. And throughout we have the deepest pleasure—that of language charged with imagery, leavened with humor, and pierced with insight.”
—Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Heating and Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs
"This Jade World is beautifully candid, funny, and heartbreaking, a startling meditation on intimacy and marriage, family history and legacy, and the strangeness of how relationships change."
—Beth (Bich Minh) Nguyen, author of Stealing Buddha's Dinner
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 3 members
I really enjoyed "This Jade World." It was lyrical, lush, and highly relatable. I would recommend through RA, and will suggest a staff purchase for our public library system. Thank you.
This Jade World follows the author as he visits Thailand and his family a year after his divorce with his first wife, Katie. The chapters are short and polished, jumping from moment to moment, weaving the story of Ira through his life, with a focus especially on his mental state in the last year. We see the effect his body, through race and fatness, had on him growing up as a Thai boy in America, and we see how much the relationship and divorce of his own parents affected him. We also see his fight with the idea of love and how he tackles with the fact he's similar to his father. We meet a lot of his family, getting to know more of how Ira became Ira, and inadvertently, Thailand as the author himself sees it. I don't usually read biographies or memoirs, and I kept forgetting this isn't a work of fiction too. I enjoyed getting to know Ira's life through well crafted and poetic chapters, and seeing the catharsis the finally received.