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BK Magazine Feb 19, 2014

Author Win Lyovarin on winning yet another award, extra-terrestrial life and "real" democracy

The two-time winner of the S.E.A. Write award, prominent writer Win Lyovarin, 57, was just recently anointed as a National Artist of Thailand by the Office of National Culture.

By Monruedee Jansuttipan | Feb 19, 2014

I never thought I’d become a writer, even though I loved to read so much. When I came back from the US, I tried to find books to read but nothing satisfied me. I had a vast collection of books to read in the US, but there was nothing I could read here at all.

If you can’t find it, just create it. I started writing what I wanted to read. It was just an expression of what I fantasized about. I later sent some of my short novels to be published in magazines in the 1990s, and I’ve kept writing ever since.

I don’t get why Thai society doesn’t see the importance of writing as a profession. The pay is still the same as it was 20-30 years ago. That’s why I had to take another job as an art director make a living.

I get bored easily. That’s why I always change genres, from thriller to noir to sci-fi.

Writers always live inside their own little world, myself included. That’s why I’m not really affected by the outside world, including winning the National Artist Award. I appreciate that people recognize my work, but I’ll continue to work the same as always.

I only write what I believe in, but sometimes imagination isn’t enough. When writing sci-fi about extraterrestrial life, it’s hard to support my ideas because so little is known.

I believe that there is extraterrestrial life. Witnessing the vast diversity on this planet, it would be so weird if there weren’t other lives in this gigantic universe.

Readers in Thailand may be growing in quantity, but not quality. We don’t have that many types of books here. For example, it’s really hard to find Thai sci-fi. No one sells it, no one reads it.
It’s horrible that we don’t have enough good books to counterbalance crap books about black magic or superstitions. It shows that our readers aren’t very diverse, too.

Books are food for the brain. We should encourage people to taste new types of books. It’s like eating different vitamins. It will give you a wider perspective.

We should be more serious about selecting books for children in libraries. If you give black magic books to children while they grow up, what kind of adult will we get in the future?

We need to stop thinking of every book as good. I’m fed up with this. We need to be more rigorous to determine good books from bad. If it’s a bad book, tear it up, burn it, throw it in the bin right away.

Books that make you dumber are poison. I don’t give poison to my readers because I’ve always said that I write books for my children and I don’t want bad things for them.

It’s time to create a society that is full of wisdom, not knowledge. Even if one day we are a country where 90 percent of the population has graduated from university, it could still be a bad society if people don’t use their knowledge for the power of good. Too many nowadays use their knowledge to serve evil politicians.

You can tell what a person is like from what they read. Is there any other country in this world so easily bought by politicians with populism? How do they believe in all the free stuff? It all comes from our taxes.

Greed has brought our country into turmoil. Politicians are greedy and people are greedy. Our people aren’t ready to improve the political system. This vicious circle hasn’t changed since our first constitution in 1932.

We can’t wait for politicians to change. They will never change. We must be the ones to instigate change. If we reject corruption, then our politicians will too.

If we want a better society, we must create quality people through good books. Give children good books.

Publishers are making books for money, not for people. There are people who do really try to make good books, but it’s not enough. They need support from the government.

We don’t have a real democracy. If we had quality people, we wouldn’t be talking about how to get the country out of this crisis in the first place. We wouldn’t need to think of how to remove protesters or whether to vote or not. The fact is our people are not good enough.
Other countries have a democracy they can believe in. We can have that, too.

Thai society is hypocritical. We say we are Buddhists but we secretly do black magic. We are Buddhists but we’re easily bought by consumerism and populism.

Crises can happen anytime and over and over. But as long as we have a good system, we will get through them. We need to look to the long-term. But the problem is no one really plans more than six months ahead.
A society where no one ever listens to each other will inevitably fail because problems aren’t discussed to be fixed.

Everything is connected. Life is not about learning one thing in depth. Broaden your horizons.