SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2020 EDWARD STANFORD 'FICTION WITH A SENSE OF PLACE' AWARD
Places remember us...
'An important, ambitious, and accomplished novel. Sudbanthad deftly sweeps us up in a tale that paints a twin portrait: of a megacity like those so many of us call home and of a world where sanctuary is increasingly hard to come by' Mohsin Hamid
A missionary begs to be sent home.
A jazz pianist is hired to perform for ghosts.
An army colonel smells the food of home for the last time.
A girl designs herself a new face.
An old woman uploads her consciousness.
Bangkok Wakes to Rain is an intricately plotted novel where characters and stories are linked by place, not time. As the novel builds to a futuristic crescendo, moments of intimacy serve to remind us that no matter what the ebb of time may change, we humans persevere.
Praise for Bangkok Wakes to Rain:
'Compelling' Financial Times
'Breathtakingly lovely' Kirkus
'A sumptuous accomplishment' Esquire
'A simple, ingenious conceit' Alexander Chee
'Elegant and restrained' Wall Street Journal
'Saturated in the senses' Claire Vaye Watkins
'A swirling, always surprising storytelling structure' Guardian
'An original and quietly memorable reading experience' Washington Post
'Beautifully textured and rich with a sense of place' Karen Walker Thompson
'Reading this book feels like waking up to a singular and important new voice' Rajesh Parameswaran
Sudbanthad's meditative debut drifts back and forth through time, evoking Bangkok past, present, and future. Loosely woven narratives follow Nee, a girl whose lover is killed during anti-government protests in 1973, as she navigates life in a melancholy city bleeding out its ancient culture. In one story, Nee is estranged from her sister Nok after she discovers Nok's restaurant in Japan buys its Thai ingredients from a corrupt ex-colonel. In another, Nee goes to work managing a high-rise condo, the lobby of which is a colonial-style Thai house the heart of this novel once owned by one of the building's wealthy elderly residents. When the old woman's son comes home from abroad, he and Nee begin a disastrous affair. Interspersed among Nee's stories (which are not presented chronologically) are beautifully wrought tales of a doctor-missionary in old Siam, whose Western faith morphs into enlightenment with the help of witch doctors, cholera, and despair. Occasionally birds will narrate a story or an aging American jazz musician, another foreigner seduced by Krungthep, the name the Thai people use to describe their city. Though this novel's ambitious architecture disparate stories in shifting eras can sometimes work against its considerable strengths, all of Sudbanthad's characters live and breathe with authenticity, and his prose is deeply moving, making for an evocative debut.