BOOK REVIEW

Bangkok Burning by Robin Newbold

Bangkok Burning by Robin Newborn, reviewed by David Gee

Bangkok Burning

The harsh reality of ladyboy bars: Bangkok Burning  

Forty-year-old Londoner Graham leaves his wife and starts a new life in Bangkok, opening a cabaret bar with a ladyboy lover. The obstacles to this enterprise include corrupt policemen and an American hard man who muscles in on both the business and Graham’s lover. Other rivals meet grisly deaths. 

Robin Newbold does not dwell on the glamour and camp of the cabaret scene. He highlights the squalid streets of Patpong and the intense trafficking of young flesh for those visitors who are not in Thailand to admire its temples and beaches. When Graham goes to Cambodia to renew his visa he doesn’t go to Angkor Wat: he visits a genocide museum and bars with pre-teen prostitutes. Bangkok Burning is a grim, unflinching read.