A virtuosic novel in which a house at the center of Bangkok is the confluence of lives shaped by upheaval, memory, and the lure of home, in the lineage of David Mitchell, Hari Kunzru, and Anthony Marra.
In the center of the most fluid of cities, a house endures two centuries' ebb and flow of change as it plays host to longings and losses past, present, and future. A nineteenth-century missionary doctor pines for the comforts of New England even as he finds the vibrant chaos on the doorstep increasingly difficult to resist. A society woman marries, mothers, and holds court in the house's 1930s heyday, little suspecting she will wind up alone. A jazz pianist is summoned in the 1950s to conjure music to dispel the resident spirits, even as he's haunted by the ghosts of his former life. In the present, a young woman gives swimming lessons in the luxury condos that have eclipsed the old house, trying to outpace the long shadow of her political past. And in the post-submergence Bangkok of the future, a band of savvy teenagers guides tourists and former residents past waterlogged, ruined landmarks, selling them tissues to wipe their tears for places they themselves do not remember.
Time collapses as these stories collide and converge, linked by blood, memory, yearning, chance, and the forces voraciously making and remaking the amphibian, ever-morphing city itself. Bangkok Wakes to Rain is a wildly imaginative, mesmerizing reading experience from an author at the beginning of what promises to be a thrilling career.
One of 2019's "Most Anticipated" Books: Esquire ● Huff Post ● The Millions ● The Week ● Lit Hub ● Electric Literature
"Remarkable...Ambitious and sweeping, yet at once intimately crafted and shot through with fine detail, Bangkok Wakes to Rain is a sumptuous accomplishment." -Esquire
"Gorgeously polyphonic and saturated in the senses, this novel brims with a wistful and gripping energy as it carries us through time and space. Sudbanthad brilliantly sounds the resonant pulse of the city in a wise and far-reaching meditation on home." -Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus and Battleborn
"[A] writer born in Thailand and now living in New York creates a portrait of Bangkok that sweeps across a century and a teeming cast of characters yet shines with exquisite detail. ...This breathtakingly lovely novel is an accomplished debut, beautifully crafted and rich with history rendered in the most human terms." -Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"[I]n this assured debut, Sudbanthad provides a broad overview of Bangkok's history while diving deep into individual stories of romance, revolution, and suffering...vivid stories that combine to create a resonant whole." -Booklist
"A bold and tender novel with a simple, ingenious conceit --the stories a house can contain, from a city's colonial past to its antediluvian future. Sudbanthad arrives to us already a masterful innovator of the form-a startlingly original debut." -Alexander Chee, author of The Queen of the Night
"Beautifully textured and rich with a sense of place, this is a big, ambitious book. Sudbanthad compellingly captures not only the long arcs of these lives but also the smallest moments, and how those moments linger in memory, how they haunt." -Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Age of Miracles and The Dreamers
"Beautifully written." -Southern Living, Best New Winter Books
"[M]editative...beautifully wrought...all of Sudbanthad's characters live and breathe with authenticity, and his prose is deeply moving, making for an evocative debut." -Publisher's Weekly
Pitchaya Sudbanthad grew up in Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and the American South. He's a contributing writer at The Morning News and has received fellowships in fiction writing from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and the MacDowell Colony.