Heralded for his collaborations with filmmakers Andy Warhol and Jack Smith and his inspired coinage “theatre of the ridiculous,” RONALD TAVEL is the author of such Off-Off-Broadway classics as “Gorilla Queen” and “Bigfoot,” as well as the novel “Street of Stairs” (Olympia Press, 1968). He was artist-in-residence at the Yale University Divinity School and Cornell University in the 1970s and the recipient of many awards and fellowships. Born in New York in 1936, he first visited Bangkok in 1981–82, returned briefly in 1995, and lived there continuously from 1997 until his death in 2009.

A novel of extraordinary intensity and brilliance of style, Chain is set in and around Bangkok in the early 1980s. In a world of frenzied gay pickup clubs, louche sexpats, and desperate need, a young American writer, teaching English at a Bangkok medical school, falls in love with a male prostitute known as Chain and finds himself implicated in a fearful web of sex trafficking, art theft, and international politics. Tavel’s tarnished hero, Cory Simon, a hunk himself, is as desirable to gay Thais as they are to him. One earnest admirer, a young Army officer, brings him back to his barracks and introduces him to his comrades, an episode reminiscent of Marcel’s visit to Saint-Loup in Proust’s The Guermantes Way, but far more explicit. Pursuing the mystery of his lover’s tangled history and compromising survival strategies, Simon is driven to extreme acts. An epic love story and a shocking exposé of the notorious sex capital of Southeast Asia in the last moments before the AIDS plague, Chain is a new gay classic!

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