Friday, May 24, 2013

Reviews Of Down And Out In South East Asia

Well, my new book Down And Out In South East Asia has been out for a week or so now, and I’ve been very pleased - not to say hugely relieved - with the reviews so far.  Even from people I didn’t pay to write them (I’m joking of course - my ‘marketing budget’ wouldn’t keep Jay Rayner in L’Oreal shampoo for a week).

It’s the sequel to my bestselling food book Down And Out In Padstow And London, and tells the story of how failed chef and hack Lennie Nash sets off to eat his way through SE Asia, with a half-baked plan to buy a restaurant.

Along the way, he encounters a host of weird characters from frazzled bar owners to Walter Mitty CIA agents to seedy sexpats to ice zombies four years over on their visa. The book is an adventure story, spiked with a heavy dose of backpacker noir, through the eateries, street food stalls, and hazy bars of Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

There is an edited extract on Khmer 440 if you fancy a read - where Nash launches a doner kebab business in Cambodia with mixed results...

But anyway, here are the reviews I’ve had so far...

Chris How: “I loved this book, and it made me slightly ashamed of my own rather pedestrian gustatory experiences in Asia. This is no hippie-dippie 'how I found myself in Asia' travelogue: Alex shows us the darker, grittier side of life in another world, generously spiced with well-researched helpings of real Vietnamese and Cambodian cooking.

“I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Asian food or travel.”

Christian Williams: “Down and Out In South East Asia is a great read from start to finish. It takes you from the grim reality of 'The Hill' with its truly bizarre characters to the food markets of Vietnam and Cambodia, where some of the best eating is to be found.

“Finishing the book made me look into a holiday in South East Asia and I might just do it, but I will be giving 'The Hill' a wide berth.”

Claire: “In Down and Out, would-be chef Lennie navigates a precarious path in his quest to set up his own restaurant in a place in the sun.

“Whilst this travelogue follows the usual backpacker circuit of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia (the standard destinations for those 'doing Asia'), Down and Out stands out in that it takes you well off of the culinary beaten track and the staple dishes that feature in your Lonely Planet guide food section.

“Your taste buds tingle from the exotic flavours and street foods that Lennie seeks out with sweaty determination, tempting even the most seasoned traveller to want return to take a braver step in their digestive exploration of this part of the world.

“But as always, the longer you stay, the more you see, and Lennie has his mettle tested in this seemingly exotic idyll by its less attractive underbelly made up of a strange collection of misfits who have long since lost their grasp of reality and in some cases, their moral compass, if they ever had one.”

Chippy: “Thankfully it wasn't quite as bleak as 'London and Padstow' (which isn't to say I didn't love that one too). I'm looking forward to Lennie's next adventure.”

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