Family on the Road: Food, Journey and Disparity in the Thai novel Nerathet (Exile)

Dr Janit Feangfu1

1Australian National University, Canberra ACT , Australia

This paper explores the centrality of food and a journey as a critique of Thailand’s socio-economic disparity in the novel Nerathet (Exile) (2014) by a Northeastern (“Isan”) author with the nom de plume of Phu Kradat. The novel portrays the journey home of an Isan migrant worker, his family and the ghost of his wife. It interweaves a long history of unequal power relations in Thailand, multiple coups d’état, inefficient national public transportation and the capitalist food system. Regional food and the lack of it as well as appetite and hunger as a result of traveling figure forth the interconnectedness between the characters and their environment.


Janit Feangfu has recently joined the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University, Canberra. She has worked on Thai literature during the Cold War Era, gender issues in Thai literature and food politics in new Isan writing. Her research interests include food memoirs, food in literature, gender issues and new Isan writing.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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