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  • Pure
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Customer reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
8
Pure
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on 11 December 2012
I taught Sour Sweet to A Level Eng Lit students in the UK and really enjoyed it. Not sure about the students!
Anyway now living in Bangkok I was intrigued about Pure's synopsis. The start is good. It details Snooky's life on the streets in Bangkok. He's a katoey (ladyboy) and lives a wild life with a bunch of similar types. As far as I know it feels pretty authentic - descriptions of late night street life in the Sukhumwit area of Bangkok. Certainly beats lazy Daily Telegraph travel guides to the Thailand.
But our hero/heroine gets busted and is forced to the south of Thailand to act as informer in a Jihadist training camp.
Mo has different narrators and a lot of the content - well for me at least - is difficult to follow. A particular problem is the narrator Victor - an old guy who tries to describe colonial history. Also the chapters narrated by the head of the training camp are tedious. Snooky's chapters I find the best-written - well the most interesting.
So my advice. If you're not in Thailand give this this a miss. And don't even think about teaching it as an Eng Lit text.
Finally. Apparently this is Mo's first novel for a decade. Hm.
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on 23 March 2014
A tale of a Bangkok ladyboy coerced into going undercover in the pondoks of southern Thailand to gather intelligence on the insurgency there. The story has moments of great satire, and some witty word play, and some fine stylistic nuances (especially the different narrations of Snooky, the ladyboy in question, and his Oxbridge don handler, Victor).

The novel doesn't quite hang together seamlessly, and could have been edited down a little, but overall this is an entertaining and intelligent satire on an under-reported war. At a time when Thailand is becoming increasingly divided between the middle class urban elite of Bangkok and the rural poor of the north- east, this book is a timely reminder that there is a third, forgotten Thailand - the three southernmost states, that are predominantly Muslim, ethnically Malay, and largely ignored by mainstream Thai society.
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on 22 July 2014
Self-published so lacking publicity this really is an extraordinarily good novel. Inventive and challenging choice and use of words on the page, arresting ideas and visions in the characters and plot. A book editor would doubtless have suggested some editing and certainly it is a work that demands concentration and some patience from an intelligent and inquiring mind but it absolutely repays that investment and simply cannot, once read, be forgotten.
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on 22 June 2017
Takes you to places that no other author I know takes you. If you want to understand the culture of South East Asia then read Mo.
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on 19 November 2012
'Sour Sweet' is one of my all-time favourite reads, so 'Pure' came as a huge disappointment. I virtually never give up on a book but came very close to it with this.
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on 7 January 2013
In all fairness I bought the wrong Pure...but read this one as I didn't know I had bought the wrong one. I found it to be extremely graphic and is not a book I would recommend to my mum or gran to read! Some of the scenes are gratuitous.
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on 15 April 2012
I didn't read Timothy Mo's last two books but as an admirer of his earlier work - shortlisted for the Booker Prize 3 times in the 1980s - I thought I would try this one and found it a delight. It's tremendous, certainly as good as any of his previous books - some may say better as it moves along at such a pace. Set predominantly in Thailand and in the Philippines, it's centred around the battle for secession in the Muslim regions of southern Thailand and Mindanao. It's narrated for the most part by Snooky, a Thai Ladyboy of great wit and presence, who is cajoled into joining a mujahedeen `pondok' to spy on their activities on behalf of the Thai police and the British government. Populated by young Thais under the tutelage of an alarming bunch of Imams, their leader, Shaykh - or `Milk Shaykh' as Snooky nicknames him - is on a mission to set up a new Caliphate in S E Asia. A strange concept indeed for a novel you might well think but in Mo's masterful hands this tale of fundamentalist idealism is not only hugely entertaining but covers a deeply serious subject - 5000 people have been slaughtered in S Thailand over the last 7 or 8 years. Courageous, comedic and yet with a extremely important message, Pure is beautifully written and I would strongly recommend it. If you haven't read Mo before, this is as good a place to start as any.
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on 12 September 2013
the life trials and tribulations of snooky your every day drug using lady boy from the day to day of bangkok life to being insnared into spying on a group of mujahadeen.a fascinating read quirky and vibrant
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