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Sightseeing (2005)

by Rattawut Lapcharoensap

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2951264,656 (3.64)24
"Sightseeing is a debut written by a young, award-winning Thai-American writer. Set in contemporary Thailand, these stories are generous, radiant tales of family bonds, youthful romance, generational conflicts, and cultural shiftings beneath the glossy surface of a warm, Edenic setting. The stories in Sightseeing present a nation far removed from its exoticized stereotypes." "In the prizewinning opening story, "Farangs," the son of a 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 American boyfriend culminates wondrously amid flying mangoes and Clint Eastwood - a pet pig - swimming 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 "an astonishing coming-of-ager" (Kirkus Reviews), in which a young girl witnesses her proud father's valiant but foolhardy battle against a local delinquent whose family's vicious stranglehold on the villagers has passed down unchecked through generations."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved… (more)

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» See also 24 mentions

English (11)  German (1)  All languages (12)
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
'A country that is dynamic and corrupt, full of pride and passion'
By sally tarbox on 2 October 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
Probably *3.5 for this selection of short stories set in the author's native Thailand but written in English.
I was particularly struck by 'Draft Day' where two young friends attend the draft lottery, where those who make it through the selection process must wait to see whether they get a red ball or black (exemption.) As they root for each other, the wealthy narrator observes "What Wichu didn't know then was that he needed my prayers more than I needed his" - his parents have bought him a guaranteed black with a bribe. An end to childhood innocence.
Also 'Priscilla the Cambodian', where a playmate suffers Thai anti-immigrant prejudice.
In the title story, a young man is accompanying his mother on a first and last holiday as she waits to go blind...
Others feature an elderly disabled American ex-pat living in a difficult relationship with his son and Thai wife; a young Thai man falling for a tourist; and a teen girl whose father is caught up in the murky world of cockfighting...
Some packed quite a punch- I couldn't put it down. ( )
  starbox | Oct 1, 2017 |
Well written collection, depicting the hardships of ordinary working-class lives in Thailand. Highly recommended although not my usual choice of subject, hence the lower rating. ( )
  Moomin_Mama | Sep 21, 2017 |
Pictures of a place most Americans know very little about. The stories are very sad, but not hopelessly so, and very well written. ( )
  Jon_Hansen | Apr 9, 2017 |
An interesting collection of stories about various people's lives in Thailand. The writing's solid and the personas of the characters fairly vivid. That being said, my enjoyment was limited by the fact that it's a bleak and largely miserable set of stories, with only scarce moments of happiness. All the characters are depicted trapped in harsh circumstances and eking limited pleasure out of meagre opportunities. I don't enjoy those stories when set in the West, no more do I appreciate them set in Thailand. It's not really a setting issue, because it's perfectly possible to write cheerful stories about life in difficult circumstances (see: any historical novel ever), it's an authorial decision. I'd have preferred, if not an artificially cheerful collection, at least a broader range of moods.

However, that's a matter of taste, not an issue of quality. The book itself is fine. ( )
  Shimmin | Apr 16, 2014 |
Very strong debut, and could relate to his perspective.. Was an welcome guest to Singapore Writers Festival 2005 ( )
  Katong | Apr 16, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
It is no wonder if the Siamese are not in any great care about their Subsistence, and if in the evening there is heard nothing but singing in their houses.

Simon de La Loubère, A New Historical Relation of the Kingdom of Siam (1693)
Dedication
For my mother,

Siriwan Sriboonyapirat
First words
Farangs

This is how we count the days.
Quotations
The only thing I ever learned about wealth was Priscilla the Cambodian's beautiful teeth. All her teeth were lovely ingots, each one crowned in a cap of pure gold. When she smiled it sometimes looked like that little girl had swallowed the sun.
She could've been Khmer Rouge—a term Mother and Father always mentioned in stern voices when they complained about the refugees—although I only understood at the time that Khmer Rouge was a bad thing like cancer was a bad thing. Khmer Rouge probably made you bald and pale and impossibly skinny, and Khmer Rouge probably made you cough up vile gray-green globs of shit like Uncle Sutichai when we visited him at the hospital every Sunday. If that little girl had Khmer Rouge, I certainly didn't want Dong to get it too.
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"Sightseeing is a debut written by a young, award-winning Thai-American writer. Set in contemporary Thailand, these stories are generous, radiant tales of family bonds, youthful romance, generational conflicts, and cultural shiftings beneath the glossy surface of a warm, Edenic setting. The stories in Sightseeing present a nation far removed from its exoticized stereotypes." "In the prizewinning opening story, "Farangs," the son of a 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 American boyfriend culminates wondrously amid flying mangoes and Clint Eastwood - a pet pig - swimming 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 "an astonishing coming-of-ager" (Kirkus Reviews), in which a young girl witnesses her proud father's valiant but foolhardy battle against a local delinquent whose family's vicious stranglehold on the villagers has passed down unchecked through generations."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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