Sightseeing
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Sightseeing

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  663 ratings  ·  123 reviews
One of the most widely reviewed debuts of the year, "Sightseeing" is a masterful story collection by an award-winning young author. Set in contemporary Thailand, these are generous, radiant tales of family bonds, youthful romance, generational conflicts and cultural shiftings beneath the glossy surface of a warm, Edenic setting. Written with exceptional acuity, grace and s...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published December 1st 2007 by Grove Press (first published 2004)
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Pear
I have many feelings about this collection of short stories. This isn't something that I could read with a light, easy heart. Indeed, I'm not sure that it was a wise choice to read it all in a day, and I don't think I'll read it again for a while; it's all still working on me.

Oh, but don't be thinking it's a bad book. It is a substantial, worthy, important book. I shall straightforwardly say that it is important for Thai authors to be read worldwide. This is not mere tokenism or naive national...more
Ardita
Lapcharoensap was 26 when he published this compilation of short stories. Born in Chicago and raised in Bangkok, he was educated in Cornell and Michigan. He has a series of honors for his works and his story was even published in Granta, a prestigious literary journal.

I believe his background has allowed him to observe the native life of Thai people from different angles and views.

His was a voice, feeling and soul of a Thai youth, adult, deranged, quirky. His stories takes you to the hidden laye...more
Ori Pilo Kerman
As someone who lives in a country where many young people go to Thailand for a mind-cleaning trip after their army service, this book was a jewel that offered me a view from different eyes - those of Thailand's natives. Also, as a guy who enjoys short stories, I got along quite easily with this book which offers six short stories and a short novel for dessert. I laughed and was touched by the characters and tales Lapcharoensap brought to life in each and every page and felt as if I can see Thail...more
Janine Barzyk Ackerman
Dec 17, 2012 Janine Barzyk Ackerman rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Janine by: my expatriate friends in Thailand
Really loved this collection of 7 short stories -- some were heart-warming, some sad, some funny. I don't normally like short stories because I find them unsatisying, but this collection was very satisying, with the exception of the last story "Cockfighter" (which is long enough to be called a "novela" I think).

All the stories take place in Thailand. I think if I had never lived in Thailand, I wouldn't perceive the stories in the same way, but since I lived there, when the author described the...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Just 25, born in Chicago and raised partly in Thailand, Lapcharoensap mines this dual cultural perspective effectively and memorably in Sightseeing. Critics agree that this new author, who has already won awards for some of these pieces, shows all signs of major literary talent, with a wisdom far beyond his years. A few reviewers found the stories of mixed quality, with occasional lapses of flat description, clichéd subject matter, or hit-you-over-the-head symbolic imagery. These missteps contra

...more
Amy
Another sad set of short stories, but this time the setting is contemporary Thailand. You have a boy that can't stop falling for American tourists (or "farangs") only to get his heart repeatedly broken. Two brothers who have to cope with the death of their father and their ghostlike mother by riding motorcycles and going to town. The older boy frequently uses prostitutes and huffs while his younger brother tries to make sense of this more adult world. Boys who avoid the draft because of their fa...more
Andrew
My interest was first piqued as an individual whose life, like Khun Rattawut's (you're supposed to call Thais by their first name, psych!) cuts back and forth between Southeast Asia and America. But it's more substantial than that. This isn't a writer who relies on "exotic" material. While his stories are deeply evocative of that often jasmine-scented and coup-plagued kingdom wedged between Burma and Indochina, they're also stories of pent-up adolescent frustration, of the gaps and bridges betwe...more
Cathreen Shiucheng แคทเรน
My ever first reading on Thai literature. It's hard to get hold of translated Thai literature to English. The Thais actually have a deep and good literature preserved since the old Siam Kingdom. I stumbled and self learned of a poem in Thai which makes me interested with the Thai literature. I was looking for a book in Kino bookstore and stumbled upon this book- a compilation of short stories.

I was gleeful. This book did not failed me- a damn good book to read. Well-recommended to those who wou...more
Sasa
I feel like an idiot because I started reading this book thinking that it was a memoir. Hahahaha! It wasn't until "Priscilla the Cambodian" when I realized that the short stories weren't connected to each other at all and the titles indicated a new short story. No wonder, the age and time frame were jumping around a lot. LOL!!!!

I would have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and this is coming from someone who dislike short stories. It had a slow start but each story got better...more
Trish
I thought this breathtaking when I read it first, when it came out in 2004. Written by a Thai-American, it gives us insight into how Westerners are are perceived by some Asians, as well as just being a very witty and insightful look at the human condition, whereever one happens to grow up.
Lu
There was really only one story in this collection that did not feel up to par with the rest. I really loved it. It amazes me that the author was only 25 (25!!!) when he wrote this. Highly recommended.
Garth
An excellent collection of short stories set in modern Thailand. It's a wonderful anecdote to the majority of modern Thai fiction that seems to be written by expats about their exploits.
David Reid
Sightseeing is a brilliant collection of short stories that capture the essence of Thai life. If you want a romanticised view of Thailand as the "Land of Smiles" then forget this book. It mixes gritty realism with an exuberant spirit. It portrays a world where brutality is in as much abundance as kindness.

The stories cover subjects such as a Thai teenage boy's romance with an American tourist and a young boy accompanying his older brother to a karaoke bar. The final story, which is also the long...more
Patrick McCoy
Sightseeing is an impressive debut collection of short stories by Rattawut Lapcharoensap, a 25 year old Thai-American. The depth of emotion and human understanding that is reflected in these seven stories is impressive from someone so young. As far as I know, he is one of few Thai writers who are writing serious fiction today in English. I originally encountered the first story “Farangs”, a story about cultural divides and identity, in Granta last year and was impressed enough to make a note of...more
McKenzie
Sightseeing, a collection of short stories by a Thai-American author about Thailand, mostly from the eyes of young Thai people, will definitely impact the way I view my upcoming vacation to Thailand. I know the country is a popular tourism destination, and as such the locals must have complicated relationships with the people who view their country and lives only as a way to receive pleasure, whether from the sex trade or tourist activities or beautiful landscapes. Lapcharoensap presents such a...more
Ape
2008 bookcrossing journal:

I really, really enjoyed this book. To be honest, if I’d picked it up myself I would probably be keeping it now!! But I won’t – haven’t quite decided how I’ll pass it on yet, but I will think of something.

This was a great collection of short stories set in modern Thailand. It’s interesting to get the insight from a local perspective rather than the popular tourist point of view. Thailand seems to be the place to go that it ends up being all we associate it with: backpac...more
Mark
It was probably going to be 2* until the last couple of stories, which are still over half the total number of pages. The first several stories are very short and not very captivating. What's interesting is that these stories aren't really /Thai/ stories, they're simply stories that happen in Thailand. Substitute the mangoes for strawberries and coconut palms for pines and they could happen anywhere. I'm not sure whether that was the author's intent or not, but it definitely makes you think and...more
Jake Sorensen
Beautifully written from start to finish, Sightseeing is one of those rare gems that is almost indescribable in its uniqueness and authenticity. This vibrant collection is so much more than the accounts of Thai people, it is a personal investigation on identity, family, and the human experience. I have not read a book I loved this much in a very long time.
Suzanne
“This is how we count the days. June: the Germans come to the Island – football cleats, big T-shirts, thick tongues – speaking like spitting. July: the Italians, the French, the British, the Americans. The Italians like pad thai, its affinity with spaghetti.”

I love to travel. I’ve been to many foreign countries, but one country I’ve always wanted to visit was Thailand. That’s one reason I love books. In Sightseeing, the author takes us on a visit to his homeland without so much as jet lag. The...more
Joyce
I came across this book by chance. I work in a bookstore that buys back used books for store credit and a fellow co-worker "bought back" this book and thought I might want it, since my daughter and her (Thai) husband are now living in Bangkok. It's a collection of 7 short stories based in Thailand. Every tale is a well written, but painful story of family life in this country that is so often stereotyped as exotic, but in reality is bleak, poverty=stricken, tough and dark. Somehow though, the au...more
Sam
I got through four of the seven stories and that was enough benefit-of-the-doubt-giving. The stories all sound the same, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if the voice had anything but this deadened quality to it. Melancholy, longing, sublimated emotions, a sense of being an outsider—all of these have been conveyed more effectively in other works. Here in Sightseeing, everything is just so bloodless and bland. I also had issues with the artificial-sounding dialogue and the writer-worksho...more
Kristianne
I read novels to prepare me for travel in another country. Lapchaoensap's book of short stories has been part of my preparation for Bangkok. It is a full and honest portrait of the city and her people. These stories address relationships between local Thai and Farang tourists, mothers and sons, fathers and daughters. The stories don't shy from tough subjects; one tackles the complicated interaction between a pair of Thai children and a settlement of Cambodian refugees and another addresses class...more
Shannon
I thought the first story was really good. Probably in part because one of the characters has a pig named Clint Eastwood. The author is good at creating, within the confines of a short story, detailed and believable characters. Edit: I finished it. All the stories were really well written and I enjoyed 'em all, except the last one "Cockfighter". This, while still really well written, didn't really do it for me. I'm really impressed with this guy's range of believable characters. Men, women, youn...more
Val
Short stories again, so this should have been on my 'currently reading' shelf for months, but I just wanted to keep reading more of them.
The stories are small, tasty slices of the life of a range of native Thais. There are a few tourists as well, sometimes insensitive ones; they should read this. All the stories are told in the first person, and each voice is distinctive. Some are very sad, some are very funny; all are very good.
I have never given five stars to a short story collection before, a...more
Noel
I really enjoyed this book. Even though it's a collection of short stories, I felt like the author did a great job of bringing the characters to life in a few short pages. I was in Thailand on vacation with the family right after the tsunami, we traveled to Bangkok and a few parts north, so Farang was a great way to start, as it dealt with tourists, and I could certainly relate to Don't Let Me Die in This Place, when they are taking grandpa to one temple after another. My kids felt just like gra...more
Kami
Five of the seven short stories in Sightseeing are just entrancing, especially if you know Thailand, especially as an outsider who loves Thailand. The ones that were just OK were the ones obviously written outside a young boy's perspective. I've been looking for good fiction set in Thailand from a Thai perspective without the kitch of prostitutes and tourists (there are more books in this genre than you'd think) and I finished this book wishing there were more out there as authentic and captivat...more
Stacie
Twenty-five-year-old Rattawut Lapcharoensap has written a great collection of stories, each from a different perspective. He puts himself in the shoes of young Thai men and women, and even an old, grumpy American man. The focus of most of the stories is family, the relationships between parents, children and siblings. Many of the stories also focus on Thai-American relations and each culture's interpretation of the other. He touches on the complexity of the human spirit and family relations, whi...more
Manda Graham
I'm going to Thailand in July and so am reading anythign I can get my hands on about the country, avoiding The Beach by Alex Garland where possible (I've already read it anyway) and found this. I nornmally don't enjoy short stories, but found these well written and interesting, as they explored some of the things you hear about in Thailand but didn't approach them head on.

Sorry if this isn't a very specific review, but I don't really want to list the subjects covered or say too much about the st...more
Robin
I picked up this book because I have a soft spot for Thailand and I haven't seen much Thai-American fiction. I was pleasantly surprised to discover one of the better books I've encountered in awhile. All of the stories were poignant and well written. I had intended to read it in its entirety one evening but had to set it down to let the first few stories linger before starting more. The narratives captured emotion and place excellently. My only regret is that I don't see anything else written by...more
Melissa
Book 1 in J's prepare-me-for-SEAsia reading list. I knew it was a book of short stories (I found the book in the short stories section of the library) and yet it didn't hit me until after I was done with the first story. I was fully expecting a long and engrossing novel when the first one just ended with a running pig and flying mangoes. A couple of the stories were kind of depressing to read... sort of sad, but not a teary sadness. Yet, they were strangely captivating. It's something I'd read a...more
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Rattawut Lapcharoensap was born in Chicago in 1979 and raised in Bangkok. He currently lives in Brooklyn and teaches high-school English. ‘Farangs’, his first published story, appeared in Granta 84. Since then, his work has been published in several literary magazines, as well as in Best New American Voices 2005 and Best American Nonrequired Reading 2005. His short-story collection Sightseeing was...more
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