Wednesday, 15 August 2012

American novelist reaches out to Mambulaons

Book cover of Patrick Maher's best-selling children's novel Pleng's Song. - Photo courtesy of the author

AN INTERESTING story has emerged out of Thailand where an author was trapped in the devastating 2011 Thai floods for five weeks. 

Patrick Maher, an international school teacher, found himself stuck in his house on a small strip of dry land with his wife and two small children. 

Struggling to find food and fresh water, they squeezed juice from the fruit they plucked off trees and killed wild snakes for their meat. 

When the floodwater finally receded, the family was intact but all of them had lost significant weight. 

Once it was time to return to teaching, Maher was visibly shaken and had trouble sleeping. 

He was also faced with a group of students who had their own flooding adventures to tell, so they put their thoughts together and began writing a story. 

Six months later, Pleng’s Song, a children’s novel was born.

Maher printed bound copies for each of his students and thought that was the end of it, but The Nation, Thailand’s major English newspaper caught wind of the story. 

What followed was amazing. 

Jim Eckardt, the chief book reviewer at The Nation and a novelist himself who is widely considered the greatest expat writer in SE Asia over the past twenty five years, got a copy of the book and read it. 

He published a “two thumbs up” book review of Pleng’s Song and the story was picked up by the Asia News Network, making it an international story. Several news articles followed in the United States, Ireland, and the Philippines.

The novel is a fast-paced children’s story that carries the reader on an adventure through floodwater and a family crisis. 

Pleng, the main character, comes from a wealthy family but her emotional needs aren’t met by her absent parents. 

The novel is not a typical children’s good-feeling book and it has a plot full of hardships that make readers appreciate their own lives.

What’s best about this story is it’s refreshing to see that a small collaborative project intended to heal wounds from a natural disaster can become something much bigger.

Reaching out to the people of Mambulao through 
 Mambulaoans World Wide Buzz (WWBuzz), Patrick Maher has offered to give free eNovels to every family in our region. Just contact him at and let him know you read this article.

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