Common Reading Program

A Chant to Sooth Wild Elephants (2010 - 2011)


A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants Book Cover

About the Book

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 Panomsarakram-thus fulfilling a familial obligation. While addressing the notions of displacement, ethnic identity and cultural belonging, A Chant to Sooth Wild Elephants chronicles his time at the temple that rain season-receiving 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. "Jaed Coffin takes us on the eternal quest which Joseph Campbell described as the journey of the hero in search of enlightenment. But A Chant to Sooth Wild Elephants is also a touching memoir of growing up in dual cultures with a foot in both First and Third Worlds. Coffin takes us inside those worlds and on that quest with such honesty, skill, humor and intimacy that we can't help but follow. A rare look into a culture from an insider/outsider's point of view." –Julia Alvarez, author of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents.

"A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants has the kind of hard, shimmering, simple prose that set Hemingway apart as a writer to watch in his first book of stories. Jaed Coffin is not only a writer to watch, however. As he demonstrates in this lively memoir, he's a writer who has already achieved that rare thing: a singular voice, and one that satisfies the ear with its quiet music, that feeds the eye with image after image of life."-Jay Parini, author of Robert Frost: A Life


Jaed Coffin at FIU

Jaed Coffin

About the Author

Jaed Coffin has worked as a boxer, sea-kayak guide, and lobsterman. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Middlebury College and a MFA from the University of Southern Maine's Stonecoast Writing Program. He lives in Brunswick, Maine.





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Author Visits

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 
Adam Braun speaks at MMC
GC Ballrooms
12:00PM – 1:00PM
(book signing to follow)

Thursday, November 2, 2017
Adam Braun speaks at BBC
WUC Ballroom 
2:00PM – 3:00PM
(book signing to follow)


Contact Information

BBC AC1 180 
3000 NE 151 Street
North Miami, FL  33181

Valerie Morgan
+1 (305) 919 - 5754
morganv@fiu.edu
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