The Glass Kingdom
It seems to be an unwritten law of reviewing Lawrence Osborne books that you compare him to Graham Greene. Every single review does it, including this one. It’s a fair comparison and always meant as flattering. The Glass Kingdom, Osborne’s seventh novel, adheres to this Greene/Osborne duality—location focused, invariably based on contemporary events and with a proclivity for Western sojourners in foreign parts. By both Greene and Osborne, transitory foreigners are usually portrayed as unsavoury characters, parasitically feeding off the environments they’ve pitched up in.
Titled after one of Bangkok’s legion of anonymous Ballardian ‘luxury’ apartment blocks, The Glass Kingdom opens with ominous weather:
On the upper floors of the Kingdom, as the first winds of the monsoon picked up, the rains swept in just before first light. The cannons of a storm sounded in the distance.
It is naa fon, the rainy season, but the thunder clouds and approaching torrential storm also represent both the macro-crisis of political turmoil out on the streets of the Thai capital, and the micro-cataclysm building among the Kingdom’s residents. Continue
Published in the Mekong Review, november 2020 – january 2021