Outhine Bounyavong is one of the most prominent contemporary writers in Laos. His stories are animated with Laotian virtues of simplicity, compassion, respect for age, and other village mores; they breathe with a gentleness that is fresh and distinctive. Outhine is interested in his own memories, in how to behave with compassion, and in the chain of life among men and women that reaches into the earth.
Rather than writing through an ideological lens, Outhine focuses on the passions and foibles of ordinary people. Their good luck, disappointments, and plain but poignant conversations reveal the subtle textures of Lao culture. The tragedy of war and the threat of environmental degradation are themes woven into his stories.
This book presents fourteen of Outhine Bounyavong’s short stories in English translation alongside the Lao originals, marking his formal debut for an American audience. It is also the first collection of Lao short stories to be published in the English language. Peter Koret’s Introduction explores the history of modern Lao literature and considers Outhine’s writing within this broader context.