Book Review : Private Dancer

This again was one of the many books that I kept seeing at the bookstores’ shelves. It claimed that it was the Number 1 Bestseller in Thailand. Somehow, that didn’t captivate me enough to pick it up. Silly me – I never thought that Thailand could produce good authors. Again, one of the many lessons in life – Never judge a book by its covers.

I finally bought the paperback version of this book (which wasn’t very expensive anyways) and sat myself down for some fun with this fictional mystery thriller. Oddly enough, this book was not as fictional as I though it’ll be. There are many truths to the story and information on this book.

Written by Stephen Leather, it recounts (I think semi-autobiographically) the ins and outs of a Go-Go dancer in what we all know as the cliched Bangkok Patpong district. As a tourist, especially from the Western countries coming to Thailand with your perceptions of Thailand and it’s sex industry, this book is noted to be one of the few rather factual information for the traveling businessman, who might fall for one of these girls.

Summary on the book jacket

Thailand 1996. The Year of the Rat. Pete, a young travel writer, wanders into a Bangkok go-go bar and meets the love of his life.

Joy is the girl of his dreams: young, stunningly pretty, and one of the Zombie Bar’s top earning pole dancers.

What follows is a roller-coaster ride of sex, drugs and deception, as Pete discovers that his very own private dancer is not all that she claims to be. And that far from being the girl of his dreams, Joy is his own personal nightmare.

After reading this book, I somehow transformed myself into an expert of the go-go bar scene in Bangkok. I started talking to traveling businessmen friends of mine about Patpong like I lived there.

Although somewhat cliched, the book gives you a good insight of how many foreigners falls for local Asians, with the perceived submissive personality and simple, classic and exotic beauty that they are drawn to. All this, not knowing the culture of the locals that could be vastly different from their Western upbringing.

I am not in anyway commenting this as a general statement for all Thais or Asians. This is just a good book that shows how expectations and perception can be so very wrong in many inter-racial relationships, of individuals of two very different continents with their culture and upbringing.

I have had many debates on this topic on YouTube with my SPG video and blog entry. Not to be controversial here, but I believe that although opposites attract, many needs to be aware of the other party when getting into these kinds of relationships. Respect and understanding (agree to disagree here) about your inter-racial partner’s background and culture is crucial.

Without getting too deep, pick up this 283 page book for a weekend read and you would surely enjoy it.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5, for being an entertaining yet informative read.

Click on the link and check out Amazon’s book descriptions, other readers’ reviews and buy “Private Dancer” by Stephen Leather.

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