Bangkok Wakes to Rain
"Recreates the experience of living in Thailand's aqueous climate so viscerally that you can feel the water rising around your ankles."--Ron Charles, Washington Post "Important, ambitious, and accomplished." --Mohsin Hamid, New York Times bestselling author of Exit West A missionary doctor pines for his native New England even as he succumbs to the vibrant chaos of nineteenth-century Siam. A post-World War II society woman marries, mothers, and holds court, little suspecting her solitary fate. A jazz pianist in the age of rock, haunted by his own ghosts, is summoned to appease the house's resident spirits. In the present, a young woman tries to outpace the long shadow of her political past. And in a New Krungthep yet to come, savvy teenagers row tourists past landmarks of the drowned old city they themselves do not remember. Time collapses as these lives collide and converge, linked by the forces voraciously making and remaking the amphibious, ever-morphing capital itself. Bangkok Wakes to Rain is an elegy for what time erases and a love song to all that persists, yearning, into the unknowable future.

Bangkok Wakes to Rain Details

TitleBangkok Wakes to Rain
Author
ReleaseFeb 19th, 2019
PublisherRiverhead Books
ISBN-139780525534761
Rating
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Short Stories, Cultural, Asia, Literary Fiction

Bangkok Wakes to Rain Review

  • Pitchaya
    January 1, 1970
    It's likely that I'm a little biased.
  • Meike
    January 1, 1970
    Sudbanthad's debut novel is a lyrical love letter to a city and its inhabitants - this book is truly enchanting and full of atmosphere, introducing various characters in order to tell the story of a vivid, loud, magical, sprawling protagonist: Bangkok. The narrative strands, set in the past, present and future, are like streets on a 3D map of the city, that evoke the spirit at the heart of the place - how can a text that is neither plot nor character driven be so captivating? Among the people we Sudbanthad's debut novel is a lyrical love letter to a city and its inhabitants - this book is truly enchanting and full of atmosphere, introducing various characters in order to tell the story of a vivid, loud, magical, sprawling protagonist: Bangkok. The narrative strands, set in the past, present and future, are like streets on a 3D map of the city, that evoke the spirit at the heart of the place - how can a text that is neither plot nor character driven be so captivating? Among the people we meet is Nee, whose lover is killed during anti-government protests in 1973, there is a missionary who works as a doctor in old Siam, an aging American jazz musician, Nok who emigrates and opens a Thai restaurant in Japan, and there are even birds who share their perspective of the city. Readers are certainly required to pay close attention, as the stories (which, with time, do intersect regarding people and places) are not told chronologically, but the slightly disorienting effect suits this novel well: With nature, architecture and generations of families, time and history converge in the city. Sudbanthad's even, meditative language is the counterpoint in this literary fugue - its beauty has an elevating effect, and it lets the reader breathe the humid air when walking through the streets of Bangkok. This is a highly impressive debut, and I can't wait to read whatever Pitchaya Sudbanthad will write next.
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  • Ron Charles
    January 1, 1970
    "Bangkok Wakes to Rain” should come with a mop. This teeming debut novel by Pitchaya Sudbanthad re-creates the experience of living in Thailand’s aqueous climate so viscerally that you can feel the water rising around your ankles.But Sudbanthad’s skills are more than just meteorological. A native of Thailand now living in New York, he captures the nation’s lush history in all its turbulence and resilience. Even the novel’s complex structure reflects Bangkok’s culture. The chapters flow back and "Bangkok Wakes to Rain” should come with a mop. This teeming debut novel by Pitchaya Sudbanthad re-creates the experience of living in Thailand’s aqueous climate so viscerally that you can feel the water rising around your ankles.But Sudbanthad’s skills are more than just meteorological. A native of Thailand now living in New York, he captures the nation’s lush history in all its turbulence and resilience. Even the novel’s complex structure reflects Bangkok’s culture. The chapters flow back and forth in time, in ways that may leave readers initially grasping for solid ground.The earliest sections involve an American doctor working for a Christian mission in 19th-century Siam. He’s a reluctant volunteer, shocked by the primitive conditions and skeptical that these pagans will ever be brought to the light of science or God. His first reaction is to. . . . To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post:https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...
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  • Will
    January 1, 1970
    4.5, rounded up.Bangkok Wakes to Rain is an ambitious, beautifully written and intricately plotted debut novel that had me engrossed from beginning to end. I am not always a fan of a novel of linked stories - which this is - but I was captivated by Sudbanthad's depiction of Bangkok. Sudbanthad's skill at using a non-linear narrative (often tricky) to trace the city's history and possible future was impressive. The 'stories' of various characters, lives that gradually connect and merge as the nov 4.5, rounded up.Bangkok Wakes to Rain is an ambitious, beautifully written and intricately plotted debut novel that had me engrossed from beginning to end. I am not always a fan of a novel of linked stories - which this is - but I was captivated by Sudbanthad's depiction of Bangkok. Sudbanthad's skill at using a non-linear narrative (often tricky) to trace the city's history and possible future was impressive. The 'stories' of various characters, lives that gradually connect and merge as the novel unfolds, are captivating and often very moving. The novel is not without its flaws and there was a section, towards the end, that didn't totally work for me, but that may be more a matter of personal taste than an actual fault. I've rounded up because, in the end, this was such an enjoyable read for me after a bit of a reading slump. The novel grabbed me and pulled me in. An excellent, accomplished debut by an author I definitely will be following.
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  • Doug
    January 1, 1970
    3.5, rounded down.For some reason, I just could never get any momentum up while reading this book; partially that was due to the disjointed nature of the narrative (it's more or less a series of VERY loosely connected short stories, rather than a true novel), and while I enjoyed what I read, it just never grabbed me enough to read more than a few pages at a time. The prose is often very good, and it certainly evokes the place extremely well, but I had a hard time keeping the various strands and 3.5, rounded down.For some reason, I just could never get any momentum up while reading this book; partially that was due to the disjointed nature of the narrative (it's more or less a series of VERY loosely connected short stories, rather than a true novel), and while I enjoyed what I read, it just never grabbed me enough to read more than a few pages at a time. The prose is often very good, and it certainly evokes the place extremely well, but I had a hard time keeping the various strands and characters straight (which was undoubtedly a function of my reading it so slowly). At another time, or with more dedication, I think I would have rated it higher ... and I WOULD be interested in reading whatever the author proffers next.PS - this is certainly not the author's fault, but this is also one of the sloppiest edited/copyedited books I've seen in awhile - shocking that a major publisher like Penguin Random House isn't more on top of things. :-(
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  • Nicky
    January 1, 1970
    4.5* rounded up."The city radiated from the river outward, and so did her madness"Beautifully written and evocative from the title to the last sentence. This novel drifts and revisits the past, present and imagined future of Bangkok with seemingly unrelated characters and stories gradually weaving together. While some of the futuristic scenes were not as strong as the rest of the book, other’s particularly regarding the political history and student massacre of 1976 had me researching to find ou 4.5* rounded up."The city radiated from the river outward, and so did her madness"Beautifully written and evocative from the title to the last sentence. This novel drifts and revisits the past, present and imagined future of Bangkok with seemingly unrelated characters and stories gradually weaving together. While some of the futuristic scenes were not as strong as the rest of the book, other’s particularly regarding the political history and student massacre of 1976 had me researching to find out more. For a city I have visited multiple times, I am ashamed to say I had no idea about this part of its history. But hey, who hasn’t been caught out in a deluge in Bangkok?! It’s not unbelievable that in the current era of climate change that this sinking city will become permanently underwater.
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  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    Sudbanthad's debut novel weaves storylines across space and time, linking back to the Thai capital and its cyclical rains and floods. A 19th-century missionary doctor treating cholera, an aging musician hired to play music for ghosts, two sisters in Thailand and Japan, a glimpse into the future of Bangkok underwater with people living in 'barge cities'. Sweeping scope, beautiful writing.It's an easy comparison to David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, but there were some other intriguing elements here th Sudbanthad's debut novel weaves storylines across space and time, linking back to the Thai capital and its cyclical rains and floods. A 19th-century missionary doctor treating cholera, an aging musician hired to play music for ghosts, two sisters in Thailand and Japan, a glimpse into the future of Bangkok underwater with people living in 'barge cities'. Sweeping scope, beautiful writing.It's an easy comparison to David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, but there were some other intriguing elements here that made this one unique - interludes narrated by birds, 1970s political landscape, and the floods that link back to impermanence and the fluidity of time, memory, and place.It took me a few pages to warm up to this one, and I was glad I stuck around. Very rewarding, and I look forward to seeing what Sudbanthad does next.
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  • Tripfiction
    January 1, 1970
    A novel of BANGKOK across the centuriesBangkok Wakes To Rain is an extraordinary debut novel – ambitious and wide ranging in both its content and its style.People and families are interwoven across centuries – from the end of the 19th to an imagined future a few decades hence. The book ranges from an historical novel through to more of a Sci-Fi fantasy. Many stories exist and overlap, but there are two constants. The first is an ever evolving building. Built in colonial times, it is inhabited at A novel of BANGKOK across the centuriesBangkok Wakes To Rain is an extraordinary debut novel – ambitious and wide ranging in both its content and its style.People and families are interwoven across centuries – from the end of the 19th to an imagined future a few decades hence. The book ranges from an historical novel through to more of a Sci-Fi fantasy. Many stories exist and overlap, but there are two constants. The first is an ever evolving building. Built in colonial times, it is inhabited at the end of the 19th century by a US missionary outpost. Cholera is rife, and many thousands in the city perish. Move on some decades and a divorced wife of a diplomat now living in London occupies the property. She summons a jazz musician to play to ghosts. Then the property is sold and converted into a 27 storey condominium block (and a young worker dies in its construction). But the original features of the colonial house are maintained. Over the years the block falls into neglect and decay. Then, finally, it is covered by water as Bangkok floods – the floods do not clear and downtown Bangkok becomes entirely submerged.The second constant is the family of two sisters – Nee and Mai. We first meet Nee as a student living with her mother. She and her boyfriend are involved in the student riots of the ’70s, and her boyfriend is killed when the military open fire. Mai has moved to Japan and opened a restaurant. We follow them through their lives… Nee, for a while, works in the condo building and gives swimming lessons in the building’s pool. Mai returns to Thailand. We see them in middle and old age as their children grow up in the futuristic city that is now Bangkok. No need for anyone to die – the brain can be plugged in and can communicate with those living life as we would understand it.A really hard book to classify and compartmentalise. It is beautifully written and far reaching. I thought the ‘Sci-Fi’ part might jar – but it did not. It flowed on effortlessly.Highly recommended.
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  • RMazin
    January 1, 1970
    Bangkok Wakes to Rain is a beautifully written book. The author cherishes the city and those who come to it. His linked stories are more like a kaleidoscope of tales that build upon the city’s past, present and future life. The people thrive, survive and change as Bangkok enfolds them within its rhythms. Subandthad, more than any other author I have recently read, has a gift for incorporating sound within each vignette. Sometimes it is jazz, traditional music, rushing water, flocks of birds, a c Bangkok Wakes to Rain is a beautifully written book. The author cherishes the city and those who come to it. His linked stories are more like a kaleidoscope of tales that build upon the city’s past, present and future life. The people thrive, survive and change as Bangkok enfolds them within its rhythms. Subandthad, more than any other author I have recently read, has a gift for incorporating sound within each vignette. Sometimes it is jazz, traditional music, rushing water, flocks of birds, a construction site, playing children or street vendors. But each piece seems to have its own sound track that lures the reader further inside the city and those who are there. Even when characters leave, the pull from their past assures that the city never truly deserts them. And there is even more below the surface of this book. Subandthad subtly interweaves history and the coming curse/blessing of modernity as it affects Bangkok and its inhabitants. This is a must read for those who are interested in the city, its past and future. Recommended for all who have visited or are planning a trip to this part of the world. Even if you are an armchair traveler, take a journey to explore the heart Bangkok and the hearts of its people.Thank you Edelweiss and the publisher, Riverhead.
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  • Karin
    January 1, 1970
    This book is very complicated--lots of timelines and characters who connect in ways that are easy to see and sometimes obscured. There's a large dash of cli-fi and sci-fi in here as well. Honestly: I can't get into what this book is about, because there are SO many different plot lines, but the overarching theme is about the passage of time and how the permanency of place is affected by time. If you like David Mitchell, give this book a shot. Honestly, I'm planning to re-read this in the next fe This book is very complicated--lots of timelines and characters who connect in ways that are easy to see and sometimes obscured. There's a large dash of cli-fi and sci-fi in here as well. Honestly: I can't get into what this book is about, because there are SO many different plot lines, but the overarching theme is about the passage of time and how the permanency of place is affected by time. If you like David Mitchell, give this book a shot. Honestly, I'm planning to re-read this in the next few years, because the first reading of it is to just get your bearings straight, and the second reading can then be used for more in-depth analysis. There's really nothing else quite like this one.
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  • Joshua Buhs
    January 1, 1970
    A lush, beautiful story that jumps to and fro in time, telling the story of Bangkok, a core of citizens, who live there and die there, when the city is first colonized to the time when its is almost overwhelmed by rising waters. Almost, for even then, the people persist. At its center is a house, a place to which the people come and go. Sudbanthad has a deft hand at creating characters and conjuring up new worlds in only a few sentences. I admit I didn't alway give the story the attention it des A lush, beautiful story that jumps to and fro in time, telling the story of Bangkok, a core of citizens, who live there and die there, when the city is first colonized to the time when its is almost overwhelmed by rising waters. Almost, for even then, the people persist. At its center is a house, a place to which the people come and go. Sudbanthad has a deft hand at creating characters and conjuring up new worlds in only a few sentences. I admit I didn't alway give the story the attention it deserved, and so missed some of the connections between the overlapping tales, but the language was fresh, the world inviting, so it didn't always matter--and anyway, would be worth another read.
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  • LittleSophie
    January 1, 1970
    First of all, this is a gorgeous title and pretty much the reason why I picked it up.And while I admired the evocative and assured language, I kept getting lost between the narrative snapshots. According to the blurb, a house in Bankok is what connects all of the episodes, but this is a rather tenuous link. I found it easier, in most cases, to follow the links between the characters, because the stories aren't always set in Bangkok.Sudbhanthat aims to cover a lot of ground and time, touching on First of all, this is a gorgeous title and pretty much the reason why I picked it up.And while I admired the evocative and assured language, I kept getting lost between the narrative snapshots. According to the blurb, a house in Bankok is what connects all of the episodes, but this is a rather tenuous link. I found it easier, in most cases, to follow the links between the characters, because the stories aren't always set in Bangkok.Sudbhanthat aims to cover a lot of ground and time, touching on colonial and revolutionary theory, as well as stretching into sci-fi terrtitory and artifical life/intelligence. This is certainly ambitious, but also weakened the overall impression, at least for me. The characters appear mostly sketched and are not granted the narrative time to fully invest in them, while the sheer number of topics raised sort of diluted the whole impact. However, this might really appeal to admirers of David Mitchell, e.g.For me, the novel lacked a clear strucutre to follow the main idea and not get lost side- and backstepping.
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  • Chanpheng
    January 1, 1970
    The second half of the book, visualizing a drowned Bangkok, is excellent. The qualms I have are about the audiobook, where the narrator mispronounces common Thai words and the accents of the Thai characters is irritating. When I re-read this, I'll go to the paper book not the audio version.
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  • James Beggarly
    January 1, 1970
    A remarkable performance of showing a city now, deep into its past and far into the future, with a very large cast of intersecting characters. A really smart novel from a first time writer.
  • Anya
    January 1, 1970
    What an eperience it was to read this book! It was something different from everything else I've read before! It's also very difficult to review because honestly I'm not sure I fully understood everything it had to offer. I chose to read it because the first time I went to Thailand I fell in love and I wanted to understand better that wonderful country. In that regard the book was exactly what I hoped it would be. I loved it. What was a bit more difficult to understand was the actual plot. I kno What an eperience it was to read this book! It was something different from everything else I've read before! It's also very difficult to review because honestly I'm not sure I fully understood everything it had to offer. I chose to read it because the first time I went to Thailand I fell in love and I wanted to understand better that wonderful country. In that regard the book was exactly what I hoped it would be. I loved it. What was a bit more difficult to understand was the actual plot. I know Asian authors write differently from Americans or Europeans and I tried to keep my mind open. Sometimes it worked, but sometimes didn't. Each chapter is a stand-alone little tale. Some are linked, some are consecutives, while some others doesn't seem to be connected (or they are, but very slightly) and the time line is anything but linear. What suprised me in a good way were the chapter settled in some future time. It never becomes unbelievable or even sience-finction-like. It was a smooth and subtle passage between recent past, present, and a quite believable near future. What woud our grand-parents have thought about cell phones if they had somehow come to hear about them? They would have thought it far more incredible than the possible future described here in my opinion! So overall a good four stars that could have easily been five if only the complicate thread linking different stories was a little more understandable..if anyone can help me I'll be glad to listen!Definitely out of my usual comfort zone but in a good way! I should do that more often.
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  • Drew
    January 1, 1970
    Might actually round up to a 4.5, will assess as I think about the book for the next few days... because I definitely WILL be thinking about it. Sudbanthad pulls off an incredible feat with this novel, making his main character a city -- not the specific streets and buildings, not like in a noir novel or even in something like Mieville's PERDIDO STREET STATION, but the spirit of a metropolis. We bounce through time, from over a hundred years ago to possibly a hundred years from now, following so Might actually round up to a 4.5, will assess as I think about the book for the next few days... because I definitely WILL be thinking about it. Sudbanthad pulls off an incredible feat with this novel, making his main character a city -- not the specific streets and buildings, not like in a noir novel or even in something like Mieville's PERDIDO STREET STATION, but the spirit of a metropolis. We bounce through time, from over a hundred years ago to possibly a hundred years from now, following some of the same characters all of whom occasionally (or more frequently) end up interacting with a house in town. Some of the sections are more effective than others, especially the ones that qualify as present-tense fiction -- but don't let that dismiss his skill with true historical fiction, nor that of his hand with the speculative.A genre-bending, beautifully written book, one that surprises in all the best ways.
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  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    I had a difficult time getting through this book-- when I was reading it I enjoyed the writing and the story, but it was easy to be distracted from going back to it. I found it to be both incredibly interesting and difficult to follow. The book blurb says that, in the book, time collapses, but I began to think of time as fluid. This seems more in keeping with water theme that pervades the story. I wonder, if I tried reading it again, I might enjoy it more. It is imaginative and descriptive. I be I had a difficult time getting through this book-- when I was reading it I enjoyed the writing and the story, but it was easy to be distracted from going back to it. I found it to be both incredibly interesting and difficult to follow. The book blurb says that, in the book, time collapses, but I began to think of time as fluid. This seems more in keeping with water theme that pervades the story. I wonder, if I tried reading it again, I might enjoy it more. It is imaginative and descriptive. I believe I may have talked myself into, at least a 3.5.
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  • Saturday's Child
    January 1, 1970
    A perfect holiday read.
  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    My review for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: http://www.startribune.com/review-ban...Pitchaya Sudbanthad’s monumental and polyphonic debut novel, “Bangkok Wakes to Rain,” is a sweeping epic with the amphibious city of the title at its scintillating center.The individual stories seem disconnected at first, almost like raindrops, discrete unto themselves. There is the unnamed woman who meanders Bangkok’s streets in the 21st century; Phineas Stevens, the missionary doctor of a century ago who longs My review for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: http://www.startribune.com/review-ban...Pitchaya Sudbanthad’s monumental and polyphonic debut novel, “Bangkok Wakes to Rain,” is a sweeping epic with the amphibious city of the title at its scintillating center.The individual stories seem disconnected at first, almost like raindrops, discrete unto themselves. There is the unnamed woman who meanders Bangkok’s streets in the 21st century; Phineas Stevens, the missionary doctor of a century ago who longs for New England and its waters “cold, clean, without crocodiles”; Crazy Legs Clyde, the piano player from the States who performs “weeknights at the Servicemen’s Club” during the Vietnam War era; Sammy, the photographer returning to London to visit his dying father, once “a Thammasat-educated rising star of international politics,” in the 1970s; Siripohng, the engineering student among the tens of thousands of protesters who move “together like a giant animal, each tiny human a cell of the beast” in the capital (going by its Thai name, Krungthep) in 1973; and many more.But like raindrops, these stories flow together to make a totality, a stream of narrative that floods the reader with the vibrant sense of a global metropolis whose only constant is constant change. Sudbanthad weaves his interconnected tales around a said-to-be-haunted “old colonial-style mansion,” a literal and symbolic hub of Bangkok’s perpetual transformations.ASSOCIATED PRESSA Thai boy, carried on the shoulder, holds an umbrella as pedestrians walk over overpass in the rain Bangkok, Thailand.TEXT SIZEEMAILPRINTMOREPitchaya Sudbanthad’s monumental and polyphonic debut novel, “Bangkok Wakes to Rain,” is a sweeping epic with the amphibious city of the title at its scintillating center.The individual stories seem disconnected at first, almost like raindrops, discrete unto themselves. There is the unnamed woman who meanders Bangkok’s streets in the 21st century; Phineas Stevens, the missionary doctor of a century ago who longs for New England and its waters “cold, clean, without crocodiles”; Crazy Legs Clyde, the piano player from the States who performs “weeknights at the Servicemen’s Club” during the Vietnam War era; Sammy, the photographer returning to London to visit his dying father, once “a Thammasat-educated rising star of international politics,” in the 1970s; Siripohng, the engineering student among the tens of thousands of protesters who move “together like a giant animal, each tiny human a cell of the beast” in the capital (going by its Thai name, Krungthep) in 1973; and many more.But like raindrops, these stories flow together to make a totality, a stream of narrative that floods the reader with the vibrant sense of a global metropolis whose only constant is constant change. Sudbanthad weaves his interconnected tales around a said-to-be-haunted “old colonial-style mansion,” a literal and symbolic hub of Bangkok’s perpetual transformations.The novel’s texture feels cinematic, but more immersive than a movie, in part because of the evocation of the scents of the setting: “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.”Sudbanthad was born in Thailand, grew up in Saudi Arabia and the American South, and now splits his time between Bangkok and Brooklyn. His ambitious novel reflects that peripatetic and cosmopolitan sensibility. Divided into four parts, by turns realistic and mystical, historical and speculative, the book is beautifully diffuse, not unlike the character Nee’s description of why she loves swimming, “diving into that blue water and dissolving.” Deftly depicting countless political, humanitarian and ecological upheavals, the lively writing never gives short shrift to plot or character development.In the vein of Arundhati Roy, Haruki Murakami or David Mitchell, Sudbanthad’s elaborate, time-hopping saga explores class stratifications, intercultural connections and disconnections, and finely textured layers of history, all the while raising fascinating questions about the future. Each individual character is finely drawn, but the brightest portrait he paints is of the city of Bangkok itself, illustrating how places of dense human habitation are not unlike rivers, surging with water from countless sources to make a single, unpredictable and unstoppable force.
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  • Ebru
    January 1, 1970
    Hasn’t the “people who are somehow connected through a place, person, whatever” method of book-writing been declared stale yet? What does non-linear timeline have to add to such poor story telling? Instead of a loose connection, short and seperate stories would have worked better for me. As it is, i thought it was forced, contrived, and unnatural. And what was that futuristic section at the end about?! I am sure there is better sci-fi out there to settle for this section.There were some good ide Hasn’t the “people who are somehow connected through a place, person, whatever” method of book-writing been declared stale yet? What does non-linear timeline have to add to such poor story telling? Instead of a loose connection, short and seperate stories would have worked better for me. As it is, i thought it was forced, contrived, and unnatural. And what was that futuristic section at the end about?! I am sure there is better sci-fi out there to settle for this section.There were some good ideas but this book is a mess. ☹️
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  • Kathleen Gray
    January 1, 1970
    Think of this as a literary kaleidoscope. It's not a straight narrative and the plot line is tenuous but it is filled with fascinating snippets of people and things in Bangkok, a city which also figures in as a character. Everyone (including the birds) are linked through a house = over a period of many years- and how they come together may not be clear for a long time but they do. Beautifully written and evocative of both time and place, it is an impressive debut. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC Think of this as a literary kaleidoscope. It's not a straight narrative and the plot line is tenuous but it is filled with fascinating snippets of people and things in Bangkok, a city which also figures in as a character. Everyone (including the birds) are linked through a house = over a period of many years- and how they come together may not be clear for a long time but they do. Beautifully written and evocative of both time and place, it is an impressive debut. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. For fans of literary fiction. Those who have visited Thailand will also relish this as it will catapult one back there.
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  • Faith
    January 1, 1970
    I liked the writing style, but the book was done in by its structure. The disjointed, loosely linked short stories didn’t form a coherent story. Then Part IV of the book totally lost me. Please don’t suddenly shift to sci fi at the end of a book.
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  • Samantha Chong
    January 1, 1970
    This was such a brilliant book. Spanning almost a century between its past and an envisioning of the city's present, Bangkok Wakes to Rain follows a few main characters at different points of their lives in Bangkok, though each chapter is narrated by characters who spend parts of their lives interacting with the main protagonists. Each protagonist's journey is unique and well-rounded, allowing the reader a glimpse into what makes their stories so... human. It's an unflinching look at the many na This was such a brilliant book. Spanning almost a century between its past and an envisioning of the city's present, Bangkok Wakes to Rain follows a few main characters at different points of their lives in Bangkok, though each chapter is narrated by characters who spend parts of their lives interacting with the main protagonists. Each protagonist's journey is unique and well-rounded, allowing the reader a glimpse into what makes their stories so... human. It's an unflinching look at the many narrative curves in which a life can take. The city is an equal character in this book; the narrative functions as an homage to all the places the city has been, and a realistic look into what the city could be in the near future.
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  • Ming
    January 1, 1970
    I thought this was an excellent book overall. I appreciated that Krungthep (aka Bangkok) is almost another character in this book. The ending got peculiar and tried to do some new things. I would definitely read other works by Subdanthad. His writing is beautiful in many parts and I enjoyed his storycraft.Several favorite quotes:He has never been one for afternoons. He hates how the day hangs so thick and undecided, as if it's staring him down and expecting an answer.One privilege Sammy enjoyed I thought this was an excellent book overall. I appreciated that Krungthep (aka Bangkok) is almost another character in this book. The ending got peculiar and tried to do some new things. I would definitely read other works by Subdanthad. His writing is beautiful in many parts and I enjoyed his storycraft.Several favorite quotes:He has never been one for afternoons. He hates how the day hangs so thick and undecided, as if it's staring him down and expecting an answer.One privilege Sammy enjoyed about his line of work was it allowed him to disappear, bodiless, into the rectangular world within his camera.His family back home knew little about his involvement with the protest groups. In letters to his mother, he mentioned only the things he wished their village had--uninterrupted electricity and multistory department stores selling all kinds of merchandise, even though he couldn't afford most of it. And the things he wished Krungthep could have of Prachuap--the cool, breathable air wafting from the sea and the long bands of stars whitening the night sky.......Tears came too easily, provoked by something or another otherwise dismissable thing, like the few scratchy notes from a song she'd caught playing in her mind. Call her selfish for letting a personal remembrance draw the first drops out of her eyes while her country burst into flames. What tremendously upset her today was what she couldn't remember anymore: Aprirak's face, which she never saw again after her return to Krungthep, and which, for many years, she would have paid a good deal to forget.Always, he treasured the newness of another's naked body, each a country with its own strange language of flesh and bone. With Nee, he detected a growing vacancy between them as their bodies entwined. She seemed to have retreated into a separate room within herself. When he tried to follow, by look or touch, she responded, but her every passionate look and gesture served only to distract him from the secret material that sealed the place where she dived through. He pretended not to notice.He remembers the moment before he resolved to stay in the apartment and lock out the world outside it. He was listening to a newly discovered bootleg recording with Clemens, Jenkins, and Thompson all going at it one long-ago night, something he'd played at least a dozen times before, when a song suddenly coiled around his entire being, note by note, with the unexpected aggression of a pet boa long thought tame. As songs shuffled to the next album on his list and then another, he grew certain that some musical matter had condensed from the air to become palpable essence filling every crevice of the room. Beyond, the city boiled in immeasurable suffering. Inside his cocoon of sound, there was only undisturbed, perfect communion with miracle after miracle. The dead was alive to sing into his ears. Time flowed in every direction, until there was no such thing as time. He let himself sink, like a prehistoric insect into sap....
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    Like many other readers, I think this book would have been better served as a series of short stories than trying to tie all the characters together. There were parts of the book that I hurtled through, and others that I struggled to get through. The writing in the earlier part of the book is, to me, much more beautiful; the later, more futuristic sections are somehow dryer and harder to follow. An ambitious work, and one that falls just short.
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  • Nat
    January 1, 1970
    A collection of disparate storylines that are tenuously linked by minor threads. Spoiler alert, I really don't think the house is what brings all the stories together despite the synopsis.It's quite difficult to follow and difficult to engage with the story or the characters as they randomly pop in and out of existence. There would be one chapter centred on one character who will only get a passing mention many chapters later. But I did enjoy the writing. My favourite storyline was Nee and Nok. A collection of disparate storylines that are tenuously linked by minor threads. Spoiler alert, I really don't think the house is what brings all the stories together despite the synopsis.It's quite difficult to follow and difficult to engage with the story or the characters as they randomly pop in and out of existence. There would be one chapter centred on one character who will only get a passing mention many chapters later. But I did enjoy the writing. My favourite storyline was Nee and Nok. And Sudbanthad's talent was most evident in Phineas' chapters.Looking forward to his future works.
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  • Carrie Echols
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway. I'm really not comfortable writing a review for this book, not because I didn't like it, but because I didn't really understand it. There's beautiful writing, great descriptions and good characters. Chapters go back and forth between characters and times and this became confusing to me. I really liked some of these characters and I felt involved with them so the book held my interest. I should research the college attack that happened in the 70's, I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway. I'm really not comfortable writing a review for this book, not because I didn't like it, but because I didn't really understand it. There's beautiful writing, great descriptions and good characters. Chapters go back and forth between characters and times and this became confusing to me. I really liked some of these characters and I felt involved with them so the book held my interest. I should research the college attack that happened in the 70's, I'd never heard of this, so I did learn something. The ending had me lost. Perhaps I should read this another time and maybe I can make more sense from it. Again, the author writes beautifully. Thanks to Goodreads for the chance to read it.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    I found the first half of this novel very slow and I almost stopped reading. I did like the second half better. I found the book confusing and I had trouble keeping track of the multiple characters, storylines, and timelines. Maybe I was just not in the right frame of mind to read a complex book right now. Thanks for an ARC of Bankok Wakes to Rain.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    A unique premise-- I'll admit I didn't catch on for some time, thinking I was reading short stories... But when I finally wised up I really enjoyed the cadence and plot.
  • Emily Yang
    January 1, 1970
    daily review coming soon
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