Six years ago at the age of twenty-one, Jaed Muncharoen Coffin, a half-Thai American man, left New England's privileged Middlebury College to be ordained as a Buddhist monk in his mother's native village of Panomsarakramthus fulfilling a familial obligation. While addressing the notions of displacement, ethnic identity, and cultural belonging, A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants chronicles his time at the temple that rain seasonreceiving alms in the streets in saffron robes; bathing in the canals; learning to meditate in a mountaintop hut; and falling in love with Lek, a beautiful Thai woman who comes to represent the life he can have if he stays. Part armchair travel, part coming-of-age story, this debut work transcends the memoir genre and ushers in a brave new voice in American nonfiction.
About the Author
Jaed Coffin holds a B.A. in philosophy from Middlebury College and an M.F.A. from the University of Southern Maine's Stonecoast Writing Program. A boxer, sea-kayaker, and lobster fisherman, he lives in Brunswick, Maine.