Bangkok Wakes to Rain

A Novel

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 is the author of the novel
Bangkok Wakes to Rain, published by Riverhead Books (US) and Sceptre (UK). He has received fellowships in fiction writing from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the MacDowell Colony, and currently splits time between Bangkok and Brooklyn.
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  • Always, she arrives near evening. The last few children in blue-and-white uniforms have finished their after-school work and are plodding along in small gangs or, like her, alone. They don't take notice of her; they have screens in their hands, shoves and teasing to repay, snacks bagged in newsprint to grease up their fingers. In their trail, sparrows tussle over fallen fried crumbs and biscuit sticks trampled to powder by little shoes. A pearl-eyed lottery seller, sensing passersby from footsteps and the clap of flip-flops, calls out over an opened case of clothes-pinned tickets to whoever craves luck.

    Her nose picks up the ashen smell always in the air. Somewhere, a garbage heap incinerates underneath a highway overpass; in temples, incense sticks release sweet smoke to the holy and the dead; flames curl blue in the open-air gas grills of shophouse food stalls.

    She is a child or a few thousand years old. Would it ever matter? The city will stay this way for her. When she was a uniformed primary schooler herself, walking home along these very streets, she liked to make believe she was a bewildered traveler in a foreign city, drawn forward by alluring strangeness. She couldn't have known then that there would be years ahead when she didn't have to pretend, and years still further ahead when pretending was all she could do.

    Fresh, fresh, hot, hot, good for kids, delicious for grown-ups, twenty bahts, twenty bahts. She counts on hearing the soy milk lady's singsongy cry ahead of the others. The thicker the crowd on the sidewalk, the louder the hawkers call out. Stampedes of dusty shoes and shopping bags and stray dogs crisscross near the ground; canopies of sun-shielding umbrellas and twisty headphone cords drift above. The fruit sellers have laid parrot-green pyramids of pomelo on their tables. They holler, "Come, pretty young sister! Come sample this!" and she tells them maybe tomorrow, knowing they'll be at the same spot to greet her the next morning as she hurries to catch the 6:45 at the Skytrain station. Auntie Tofu, Uncle Big Mouth, the Egret: she doesn't know their real names, only the monikers her mother mentioned when boasting of discounts negotiated at the produce scale. The vendors pick up halved mangosteens to show off the white flesh balled inside like an unbloomed flower. It's about the time of the year when these particular fruits become more plentiful, though that wasn't always the case, especially during the calamitous years-lifetimes ago it seems-when orchards drowned and few trucks dared brave watery roads to deliver what little of the crop had been saved. Those days are hardly worth remembering, are they? Everything is now back in its place.

    The asphalt before her darkens in the shadow of the building she thinks of as home. The usual guard salutes her from the gatehouse, a walkie-talkie raised to his forehead. When building management first upgraded the security setup to attract higher-paying tenants for the rental floors, she thought the cameras were turning to follow her. She'd find out that the motion was simply an automatic preset and the feeds went to backroom monitors attended by no one. She was young then and didn't realize that there was already scant escape from being watched, camera or no camera.

    Eyes are everywhere, pointing down from balconies and windows, through the iron fencing and palm thickets that separate the building's grounds from the unruly street. She can feel eyes on her skin, even now. It won't surprise her to turn around from this walk up the driveway and find the guard peeling her with his stare. Where the building's communal shrine stands, a sun-reddened European family, probably one of the short-term renters, is clicking selfies in front of the week's offerings-oranges and bottled cola-for higher entities and land spirits. The pudgy-faced father turns in her direction, eyes widened, before resuming his pose for another shot.

    In the lobby,
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Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 368
Erscheinungsdatum 19.02.2019
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-525-54276-6
Verlag Penguin LCC US
Maße (L/B/H) 22.8/15.1/3 cm
Gewicht 401 g
Verkaufsrang 1762
Buch (Taschenbuch, Englisch)
Buch (Taschenbuch, Englisch)
Fr. 23.90
Fr. 23.90
inkl. gesetzl. MwSt.
inkl. gesetzl. MwSt.
zzgl. Versandkosten
Versandfertig innert 1 - 2 Werktagen,  Kostenlose Lieferung ab Fr.  30 i
Versandfertig innert 1 - 2 Werktagen
Kostenlose Lieferung ab Fr.  30 i
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