When reading a collection of stories, we can choose to think about the book as a sum of the individual stories, or to think about the narrative stringing these stories together. This is a collection of life stories of ladyboys, described by the authors as 'a personal venture into humanity'.The book is well written and an easy read, and importantly it's a very human look at a group of people who struggle daily with something that the rest of us take for granted. Donna Tartt's third novel -- 11 years in the making -- now has a title and a release date. According to an Amazon listing, the novel is titled Goldfinch and is scheduled for release Oct. Tartt is the reclusive novelist who shot to fame in 1992 with the blockbuster hit The Secret History, a murder mystery set on a college campus much like that of her alma mater Bennington College. A movie version of The Secret History was reportedly in development by Alan Pakula before his death in a car accident on Long Island in 1998. David Jesue and Rosario Rossallini are hacker agents dispatched from the Vatican, the headquarters of the Catholic church.
And unfortunately, for this book, the narrative is much more interesting (and thought provoking) than the individual stories.As stories read together, this book offers us a peep into the lives of the ladyboys through their own words.
Alone and determined to avoid being taken in by the city as an orphan, Theo scrambles between nights in friends' apartments and on the city streets. They came to Japan chasing the whereabouts of the head programmer who disappeared from the Vatican.
And then, there’s the mysterious magic square of the Sagrada Familia, which is to be completed in 2026, designed by Gaudi. They talk about the choices they've made, their relationships, families, frustrations and hopes.

The book is a collection of stories from ladyboys in all walks of life - from the prostitute to the performer, entrepreneur and even a Muay Thai boxer. We know, briefly, the story of these ladyboys - how it was like growing up, when did they start being aware of their sexuality (and gender issues), the operation (if there was), and what life is like now. It was also surprising how all of them strongly identified themselves as females, as opposed to gender discussion in western world where wider range of genders or positions between male and female are defended to be needed. These urban legends are similar to the Arecibo Message, and are tied to the secrets of Anonymous;Code. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without acknowledgment of Gematsu is prohibited. After a few stories, you hear a lot of the same emotions so the stories start to mesh together and because it's been translated, you hear the same voice through the different stories. And through this method of story telling, we are introduced to 9 lady boys, from the famous Nong Toom, the beautiful boxer, Auntie Nong, the ageing dancer, and to 7 other lady boys.The simple story arc, however, does not do justice to these individuals because it leaves the reader wanting. I don't give the book 4 stars based on its writing but based on what it attempts to do, which is to show that ladyboys aren't simply this 1 group of people, they are all different and exist in different aspects of society and despite what's known to foreigners - and that is, that ladyboys are well accepted in Thai society - there is a lot that we don't see. Wanting to know more about their trials and tribulations, the emotions that these individuals go through beyond feeling rejected, and all the finer details in their stories that we are left out of. Some have come to terms with who they are.It is a cruel twist of biological fate when your body and mind disagree about your gender, in a world that (by and large) fears any deviation from traditional gender roles. Without all these layers in the stories, each “chapter” feels like a repetition of the previous chapter, because arguably, people's lives are pretty similar to one another. Behind all the glitzy neon lights in the Patpong district of Bangkok, the beaches of Pattaya, is a country still deeply rooted in traditions - something that the tourist to Bangkok will not even begin to suspect.

In Thailand, there is a still a huge population of people who are living in rural areas where gender roles are still very much expected to be followed; not doing so brings shame to the family and that is something that most Thais would not consider doing. There are many people making changes to adapt to the environment ,but finally then get sad and hurt. They have to withstand constant bullying and name-calling from others, and this can often lead to disastrous outcome, such as severe depression and teenage suicide - something very prevalent amongst individuals with gender identity disorder.What is interesting here is the comfort that the older kathoeys provide to the struggling teenage protagonists. The older kathoeys are seen as beacons of hope - individuals who can navigate the maze of everyday realities, individuals who made it in the difficult road of life, and someone to provide emotional support. But what I also got out of the book, is that these older kathoeys create a sense social pressure for the young protagonists to become one of them.
They have essentially “judged” and determined that they are one of the ladyboys.It is somewhat disturbing to read words coming from the older kathoeys, suggesting that the younger individual should embrace his inner woman and go for a gender realignment surgery.
Having read psychology as one of my majors in college, the effects of Gender Identity Disorder is something that I know of, and to that end, I actively try to educate others about it - that it is a real issue that causes severe trauma to individuals. It is not something as simple as a person suddenly waking up one day and decides to be of another gender. But through the stories here, I am confronted with the fact that there are a lot of social pressures within the transgendered community in Thailand to go for surgery - it is about status, and not about psychological wellbeing.
What drives some of these individuals is the glamour of the community hanging out together.This makes me wonder, is this the “secret world of Thailand’s third gender”, as the title suggests?

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