Sightseeing is a masterful new work of fiction, a collection of stories set in contemporary Thailand and written with a grace and sophistication that belie the age of its young author. These are generous, tender tales of family bonds, youthful romance, generational conflicts, and cultural shiftings beneath the glossy surface of a warm, Edenic setting. Rattawut Lapcharoensap offers a diverse, humorous, and deeply affectionate view of life in a small Southeast Asian country that is inevitably absorbing the waves of encroaching Westernization.
In the prizewinning opening story, "Farangs," the young son of a modest beachside motel owner commits the cardinal sin of falling for a pretty tourist, and the confrontation that ensues between the native boy and the girl's pompous American boyfriend culminates wondrously amid flying mangoes and Clint Eastwooda pet pigswimming out to sea. In "Sightseeing," the much-anticipated holiday of a young man about to leave for college and his loving and fiercely independent mother becomes a different kind of pilgrimage altogether when they are forced to confront the mother's impending blindness. The concluding novella, "Cockfighter," is a triumph of storytelling in which a young girl witnesses her proud father's valiant but foolhardy and drawn-out battle against the local delinquent and violent hoodlum whose family's vicious stranglehold on the villagers has passed down unchecked through generations.
Through his vivid assemblage of parents and children, natives and transients, ardent lovers and sworn enemies, Lapcharoensap dares us to look with new eyes at the circumstances that shape our views and the prejudices that form our blind spots. Gorgeous and lush, painful and candid, Sightseeing is an extraordinary reading experience, one that powerfully reveals that when it comes to how we respond to pain, anger, hurt, and love, no place is too far from home.
This is how we count the days. June: the Germans come to the Islandfootball cleats, big T-shirts, thick tonguesspeaking like spitting. July: the Italians, the French, the British, the Americans. The Italians like pad thai, its affinity with spaghetti. They like light fabrics, sunglasses, leather sandals. The French like plump girls, rambutans, disco music, baring their breasts. The British are here to work on their pasty complexions, their penchant for hashish. Americans are the fattest, the stingiest of the bunch. They may pretend to like pad thai or grilled prawns or the occasional curry, but twice a week they need their culinary comforts, their hamburgers and their pizzas. They're also the worst drunks. Never get too close to a drunk American. August brings the Japanese. Stay close to them. Never underestimate the power of the yen. Everything's cheap with imperial monies in hand and they're too polite to bargain. By the end of August, when the ...
I highly recommend this exceptional collection of stories, set in contemporary Thailand, to adults and older teens. Read a complete short story for yourself at BookBrowse and decide for yourself if it's right for you.
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