Touch The Dragon: A Thai Journal

Touch the Dragon by Karen Connelly


Touch The Dragon: A Thai Journal

A national bestseller for two years, the winner of the Governor General’s Award in 1993, and a New York Times Notable Travel Book of the Year in 2000, Touch the Dragon, A Thai Journal is a rare and dazzling exploration of a young writer’s brave new world.


Winner of the 1993 Governor General's Award for Nonfiction

At the age of 17, the adventure-seeking Calgary teenager went to Thailand on a Rotary exchange program and her life changed forever. Twenty-four years later, Connelly is still travelling and writing, inspiring the world with her stories.Through vivid imagery, humour and careful observation of the families, school friends and Buddhist rituals around her, Connelly brings to life the small village in northern Thailand where she stayed for a year.Initially homesick and frustrated by the habits and lifestyle of the gentle but patriarchal Thais, Connelly begins to view herself as one of them by the end of her stay.

The idea of returning to Canada becomes terrifying and strange because she has become so accustomed to her new community and the Thai way of life. Put together from her journals written at the time, Connelly's to-the-moment chronicling of her experience reveals a momentous growing experience in the heart and mind of a young woman. New material including photos, maps and an afterword by Karen Connelly is included in this new format edition of her 1993 Governor General's Award-winning classic, Touch the Dragon: A Thai Journal. 

Winner of the 1993 Governor General's Award for Nonfiction
Advanced Praise

[Touch The Dragon] is filled with a string of powerful, enriching moments, vignettes beautifully and clearly illustrated in Connelly's poetic language, which seem as fresh in the reader's mind as they must in her memory. The reader can taste, smell and visualize everything …. The book live up to the name her Thai friends conferred upon [its author], "Ploy" –gem.

The Globe and Mail

…... a travel memoir extraordinaire … Reading Touch The Dragon is like sharing someone’s treasured memories, hopes and dreams …. The story of Connelly's year in Thailand is illuminating, poignant and funny, and her writing is exquisite.

Winnipeg Free Press

[Connelly is] a gifted prose stylist.... Touch The Dragon is a lovingly crafted piece of writing. The immediacy of Connelly's prose keeps the narrative humming.... Rarely do the thoughts of such a young writer reach print in this sophisticated a form.

Charles Foran, The Montreal Gazette

Connelly is a refreshingly clear and perceptive writer ….. She is genuinely interested in Thailand, not as a reflection of her own preoccupations, but as a source of amazement to be grasped and absorbed.

Books in Canada


Thailand, in all its colorful manifestations, quickly becomes the perfect country for a willing traveler to learn the wisdom of laughter...Connelly's images are so clear, so perfectly chosen, that getting lost inside this marvelous book is a rare pleasure.... Touch The Dragon is a splendid evocation of a country and its culture....

The Daily Yomiuri Review, Japan

In Touch The Dragon, Connelly captures the intricacies of daily life in rural Thailand, as well as the slow magic by which she came to feel at home there. The story is engrossing and the images are delicious.

Cityscape Magazine

In Touch The Dragon Connelly revels in observing the unusual and exotic and pulling from her vocabulary the precise words to convey what she sees.

Prairie Books

[Connelly] captures the feelings of homesickness and bewilderment surely every young traveller far from home experiences, but there are also insights and observations about Buddhism, the lives of Thai women and poverty.... Even simple anecdotes about riding a bicycle in the rain, or watching village women wash clothes are beautiful....

Uptown Magazine

...magical.... Connelly evokes, by way of her beautiful, lyrical narrative, the true essence of South-East Asia.

The Observer

 ...Raw honesty… powerful descriptions… compulsive reading.

The Bookseller, Sydney

" exquisitely detailed account of a year in Thailand."

The Weekend Austrialian

...a delight.... Connelly's writing has a poetic charm and a lack of cynicism which is initially beguiling and then entrancing.

Sydney Morning Herald

...Connelly's writing expresses...the abrasive shock of the cultural Other, although Touch the Dragon is not without its lyrical moments. Not only does the author find herself alone in an alien but fully functioning society, but she observes it at a double remove, both as a falang or foreigner and as a woman..

Robyn Gillam, Paragraph Vol 15

Touch the Dragon is full of wonder, wisdom, humour and humility... 

The Klondike Sun

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