Welcome Me to the Kingdom: Stories (Hardcover)

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An immersive debut set across the temples, slums, and gated estates of late-twentieth century Bangkok, Welcome Me to the Kingdom tells the story of three families striving to control their own destinies in a merciless, sometimes brutally violent, metropolis.

Spanning decades and perspectives, seamlessly shifting between the gothic and the tenderhearted, Welcome Me to the Kingdom announces the arrival of an immensely talented new voice in literary fiction. Orbiting the devastating financial crisis of 1997, these interwoven stories introduce us to three families—a Thai Elvis impersonator and his only daughter, a family abandoned by their white American patriarch, and an adoptive brotherhood of oprhaned boys—who employ various schemes and strategies to conceal, betray, lie, and seduce their way to achieving the “good” life.

Sex tourism and Buddhist cults threaten to overtake the nation while Elvis impersonators compete for their respective legacies. A spirit medium channels southern Thailand’s secessionist anger into her bloody but essential work. Two strivers, down on their luck in the midst of the recession, enter a cock-fighting tournament with a legendary bird. An American leaves his family and expatriates to Bangkok, sold on the idea of an "easy" country—then abandons it when the Thai economy is upended. And in a city where class is fate, two friends volunteer as first responders to accumulate karmic merit toward their next lives.

Wildly imaginative and ambitious, Mai Nardone's stories capture the growing discrepancy between Thailand’s smiling self-image and its ugly obverse. Through skin-whitening routines, cult conversion, Elvis costumery, gambling, and sex work, the collection's characters look for reinvention in a city unmade by a financial crisis, in a kingdom caught between this world and the next.

About the Author

Mai Nardone is a Thai and American writer whose fiction has appeared in American Short Fiction, Granta, McSweeney's, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. He lives in Bangkok. Welcome Me to the Kingdom is his first book.

Praise For…

“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, author of If I Had Your Face

“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. Welcome Me to the Kingdom should be taught in classrooms everywhere.”—Jonathan Escoffery, author of If I Survive You

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 to the heart. I did not want to put this book down and neither will you.”—C Pam Zhang, bestselling author of How Much of These Hills Is Gold

“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, author of Sharks in the Time of Saviors

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593498187
ISBN-10: 0593498186
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: February 14th, 2023
Pages: 288
Language: English