Expanded, updated 2nd Edition
The influential bestselling book Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture is now fully updated and expanded into a new 2nd Edition
This pioneering insight into Thai pop and streetlife has been totally revised to reflect the dramatic changes in Thailand. Widely praised as one of the best books on Thailand, Very Thai delves beyond the traditional Thai icons to reveal the casual, everyday expressions of Thainess that so delight and puzzle, from floral truck bolts and taxi altars to buffalo cart furniture and drinks in a bags.
Read the Preface by Alex Kerr and the Afterword by Pracha Suveeranont
New in 2nd Edition
Four extra chapters cover the huge shifts in Thailand since the launch of the 1st edition in 2004.
- The impacts on Thai pop from the Internet, political upheavals and the rise of Asian soft power.
- The new genre of ‘Vernacular Thai Design’.
- Changes in contemporary Thainess from the rise of ‘Thai Thai’ retro culture.
- Afterword by Pracha Suveeranont, a Thai expert in visual culture, about the role of ‘Very Thai’ within Thailand.
70 Chapters on quirky topics
Philip scoured each region to show how indigenous wisdom both adapts to the present and customises imports, applying Roman architecture to shophouses, morphing rock into festive farm music, turning the Japanese motor-rickshaw into the tuk-tuk.
Thai culture wasn’t colonised, and the most mundane retain nuanced ancient meaning that can confound the outsider. The days are colour coded, lucky numbers dictate prices, window grilles become guardian angels, tattoos entrance the wearer. The author’s insights help the reader navigate various social traits, whether white-faced hi-so matrons or Red Bull-swilling workers wearing coins in their ear.
591 Colour Photographs
The vivid photographs by Philip Cornwel-Smith and John Goss reflect the scenes as found, with no staging, so the reader feels a realistic connection from their own encounters. It’s a photo album of the things that people here commonly overlook, yet which relate to their daily lives.
An Iconic Book
This trailblazing guide to Thai culture has become an influential style bible, research text, and reference for creative, especially in advertising, design and visual arts. The book has even been curated as an exhibit in several exhibitions. Very Thai is more than a book about Thai icons; it has become a cult object itself.
Very Thai book updated for 2017
A lot has happened in Thailand since the 2nd edition of Very Thai was launched. King Bhumbol passed away on 13 October 2016, beginning the reign of King Vachiralongkorn. The Bangkok Shutdown protests, the coup of 2014 and the subsequent junta regime have changed many things about the country’s popular culture, especially in the capital.
In particular the junta and BMA have targeted the informal economy, evicting communities, closing famous markets, banishing streetfood and vendors from most of downtown, reorganising motorcycle taxis and car taxis, buses, boats and other streetlife. They have also affected nightlife, media, entertainments, and the river, among many other things. Meanwhile, movements like new curated markets have made a big splash. In addition, the world has shifted ever more into the digital realm, with apps becoming a major feature of Bangkok life.
This update has kept the structure of the book the same, but affected most chapters in some way.
Original 1st Edition
The 1st edition of Very Thai was published on 12 Dec 2004 with a launch party at Jim Thompson House . An immediate bestseller, it was reprinted in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011. An e-book version will be released in 2014. A German edition, called Typisch Thai, was launched in 2008???, reprinted in 2011???, and due out in the updated 2nd edition in 2014. A Japanese translation is also due for release in 2014.