Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales
“In this original, sparkling, culturally savvy and highly entertaining collection of linked stories set in a mythical but utterly believable small country in southeast Asia, Bluestein displays a brilliant sense of craft as well as cultural ventriloquism, writing equally convincingly from the point of view of Westerners and Easterners...”
–Marly Swick, Final Judge, G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction
About Writing Tea and Other Ayama Na Tales
The stories in this collection are inspired by my travels in Southeast Asia—Singapore, Viet Nam, Thailand, and Cambodia. The war-torn landscape and history of the fictional land of Ayama Na are most like Cambodia's--a country still in recovery from a long nightmare of war and destruction.
The stories and scenes that take place in hill tribes owe their physical descriptions to hill tribes I visited in Thailand. The street of fortune tellers in the story "North of the Faro" is similar to a street in Singapore where I met a gifted local fortune teller who sat at a card table quietly changing people's lives.
In all these countries, the individuals I encountered were warm, hard-working, resiliant, and open-hearted. These brief travels--tourist visits really--moved me and inspired me to try to capture in fiction some of what I saw and felt.