Although he comes from a less than well-off rural Thai family, Piv is a survivor. Things may not have gone the way he had hoped in his life, but he gets by in Bangkok, does fairly well even. Often he has affairs with the farang (foreigner) women who provide him with places to stay, food, and occasionally even money. His latest farang, however, barely has these things herself. Robin has been backpacking for so long that she has not only wiped out her savings, but also maxed out her credit cards. The US Embassy could help her out, but only by sending her home, and Robin is not yet ready to leave Thailand or Piv. For help, Piv turns to the Kenyan business man he has become acquainted with from his hotel bar. Abu in turns offers both Piv and Robin courier jobs but, once Robin finds out what she is couriering, she has to reevaluate what she wants, and ask herself if those things are worth the price she is paying for them.
Although it starts out a bit slow, “Currency” is an intensely engaging novel. As someone who backpacked around Southeast Asia herself, Zolbrod paints what appears to be an incredibly realistic portrait of Thailand and many of the systemic problems therein, without ever making it seem as if she was denigrating Thailand for some of its societal ills. Perhaps the best part about “Currency,” however, was Robin’s journey. Zolbrod did a wonderful job getting inside Robin’s head and showing the reader everything needed to understand her motivations. Although I didn’t necessarily like Robin or approve of much she did, I felt that I understood her very well, which is part of what made “Currency” such an engaging read.
“Currency” is a debut novel both for author Zoe Zolbrod and for her publisher Other Voices Books. With “Currency,” both have proved themselves as people to watch.
Zoe Zolbrod’s websiteThis review was done with a book received from the author.
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