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'Very Bangkok' becomes face of Thailand

Popular ode to the Thai capital fronts pavilion at global cities festival

Philip Cornwel-Smith says his latest book "is not a guide to places and things. It's more of a guide to why Bangkok is the way it is, and how it became like that."  (Nikkei montage/Cover design by Xavier Comas of Cover Kitchen; portrait photo by Cedric Arnold)

BANGKOK -- The British author and cultural chronicler Philip Cornwel-Smith has called Bangkok his home for a quarter century, and his book "Very Thai," published in 2005, has become the standard go-to work for inquiries on all aspects of popular Thai culture. Now, his follow-up "Very Bangkok," a 350-page ode of love to the city published just before COVID-19 made international travel impossible, has become the face of Thailand in a just-opened international exhibition devoted to global cities.

In sections entitled "Senses," "Heart" and "Face," Cornwel-Smith's new book explores and explains myriad urban tales, myths, facts and contradictions that make up the personality of the Thai capital, accompanied by the author's vivid color photographs. No foreign or Thai writer has published a book that comes close to providing as erudite and intimate a portrait of the capital.

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