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On FROM BANGKOK WITH DESPAIR, by Tichakorn Khroopan Hill

Published on October 13, 2013

Mixing the charm of chick lit with the suspense of a thriller requires a deft hand; in her debut novel, From Bangkok with Despair: (Mis)adventures in D. C., Tichakorn Khroopan Hill is well up to the task. The book follows Joyjira, a Thai reporter trying to make a new life in the US after a nasty breakup back in Bangkok. Joy’s an engaging character, whose breathless love for Hello Kitty and designer shoes is balanced by her practical approach to the challenges of her new life and new job.

The camaraderie (and occasional savage backbiting) of a city newsroom is vividly depicted here, as are perspectives of the Thai community in the US, from restaurant chefs to international students. If there’s fault to find with From Bangkok with Despair, it’s that the book does so much at once: it’s a coming of age story, a Beltway thriller, and a romance. Joy’s distinctive voice and character are strong enough to tie the book together, though, and delightful enough to leave readers wanting more from Tichakorn Khroopan Hill.

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