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The Ink Readers of Doi Saket

3.19  ·  Rating details ·  419 ratings  ·  68 reviews
People send their dreams and wishes floating down the Mae Ping River with the hope that those dreams will be captured, read and come true. It is a surprise what some wish for and why. One can never know what's inside someone's heart - what they really truly want, and those dreams sometimes reveal our true selves. ...more
ebook, 32 pages
Published April 24th 2013 by Tor Books
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Average rating 3.19  · 
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Apr 07, 2021 rated it liked it
In his frenzy, Uan had forgotten all about the general consensus around the ancient fertility symbol. The adulterous rice peeler Somchai had once cheated on her husband with three neighbors and a shopkeeper from a nearby village after she had been spotted on the phallic altar, touching herself and wrapped in nothing but silk ribbons. As a penalty, Somchai was buried waist deep in the rice field so that her excess fertility could seep into the crops, and it was decided that the bewitched phallus
Jul 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ink readers, Thai monks, river goddesses
A strange little story, whimsical and tragic and comic all at once. Doi Saket is a tiny Thai village that benefits from the annual Loi Krathong festival, in which people from Chiang Mai and all over northern Thailand send wishes downriver in the form of little floating lanterns. The villagers of Doi Saket have begun collecting the money and other gifts included with these lanterns, believing that they are granting the wishes written therein.

It turns out that the "wish-granting" is a conspiracy a
Dec 14, 2016 rated it liked it
#11 short story read in personal short story challenge. Found on

Weird, kind of funny, kind of sad, odd little story that takes place in a Thai village.
The cover art is beautiful (same artist who created the image for Ann Aguirre's Foundation, found on the same website.)
Althea Ann
Apr 07, 2014 rated it liked it
An irreverent tale of a festival of wishes; and what may or may not happen to make those wishes come true. It had some good elements, but overall I didn't find the Thai setting convincing, and the tone felt like a mainstream writer trying his hand at a fantastic tale. (From his bio, it doesn't seem that he does write mainstream fiction; but that was my impression.) Mostly, I think his particular brand of satirical humor just isn't for me - it probably will be more to others' taste.

Edit: 12/11/14
This a rather beautiful little fable. It is meandering, it is a wish, it is a butterfly. There is beauty here.
No. Just... no. This barely feels like a story at all, just bits and pieces spliced together with unnecessarily frequent and repetitive phrases and adjectives that feel - as a writer myself, albeit not one who does it to earn money - very much like the writer's trying to eke out enough words to reach a minimum word count. It feels clumsy, awkward and forced.

I also have to wonder why the author chose to set the story in Thai culture when he himself is apparently Dutch. That, too, feels like some
Nancy O'Toole
The Ink Readers of Doi Saket is a fable-like story about wishes that takes place in Thailand. This is typically a story that would mesh very well with me, especially given the high quality of the writing, but in all honesty, I had a hard time connecting with it. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the story seems to wander around a lot in the beginning, before getting more focused in the end. Or, it could have been that I found all of the footnotes distracting. Either way, I just didn't click w ...more
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a pretty good short story about a wish-granting festival where the villagers go to retreive them on the riverbank and a young boy who stands his ground against a angry tiger. Want to read more? Read on and find out for yourself.

You can read this short story here at this website now:
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
A charming and beautiful short about wishes, similar in tone to the films of Jeunet/Caro. Whimsical and, at points, melancholy, this portrait of a community focused on granting wishes and the strange ways this happens will probably leave you with a smile.
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
I am a Thai reader accustomed to Northern norms and so much intrigued by this short story because it's about Northern Thai folklore set place in a small village on Doi Saket, Chiang Mai written by a completely foreign writer.

The story happened on Loi Kra Tong festival days where people in the faraway village, called themselves 'the Ink Readers' (what the fuck does it mean?) had purposes to collect Kratongs floating in the downriver, and looked into the wishes granted by people, or in the short
Apr 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
This one was lost on me.
Jennifer (bunnyreads)
Story was Ok, a bit pieced-together feeling like some shorts tend to be, but it lacked that extra something that usually grabs you in these. Liked the cover art more than the story.
Venus Maneater
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A cute short story about wishes. They are granted in a wave of accidents and flukes and coincidence and it all starts with death.
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: tor-com-others
I wanted to like this, it had potential but I couldn't get past the way it was written. The prose is pretty, but it's non-linear...where is the pretty prose going? ...more
Daniel Burton
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
So, this story is something different. And, for some reason, it's a Hugo nominee, too.

Near the end of the Mae Ping River in Thailand, a town plays a special role in an annual ritual that runs river long. Villagers will put their wishes in floating down river in paper boats and hope that they will be answered. In Doi Saket, the villagers will be led to read those wishes.

Told scattered and piece meal in the voice of an omniscient, native story teller, the disparate pieces come together to create
Norman Cook
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this story because it was nominated for the Hugo Award. The fantasy elements could have been eliminated and the story would still have worked. It is a tale of the interactions and seeming coincidences that we all experience. The prose is fluid. One distraction, though, is that the author footnotes the meanings of most of the Thai names in the story, which I thought was unnecessary. Overall, a sweet little story.
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
A Hugo nominated short based on the Thai festival of Loi Krathong. On the full moon of the 12th month, the Thai people launch their krathong, as well as a wish, on a river or other body of water. A look at just how far some local religious leaders will go to keep the idea of divine intervention intact.
Nov 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, short-story
Very uplifting story about wishes, consequences, connections, and coincidences. I enjoyed this much more than his Hugo-nominated story "The Boy Who Cast No Shadow." ...more
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
My favourite of the short stories on this year's Hugo shortlist, not that that is saying a lot. ...more
Dawn Paris
Jun 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-things
Strange but interesting little bit of fantasy.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
What a disappointment! After reading HEX, I thought I had found a new wonderful writer and was eager to read any of his other works. Unfortunately this short story totally missed the mark for me. I think I get the purpose of this story?????? Everyone has wishes of something better (yes even Tangmoo) and the desires either come true or not. If they come true, the person credits that their wish came true because of the rituals of Loi Krathong. When in reality many of the wishes come true because o ...more
I saw this was Hugo nominated for its category. It's a beautifully written short story of a Korean village during a festival of lights that contain within the lantern the wishes of the owner. A corrupt group of monks at the nearby temple have taken to profiting off the festival however. The story meanders slowly like the river within it, and ultimately karma has the last word. ...more
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It was an accidental purchase from a book fair but I was so amazed. It could be because I didn't read much from Netherlands authors but it was so good still. ...more
Jun 21, 2019 rated it liked it
I liked this much more than the other Heuvelt story I read, but I don't know if I could articulate why. ...more
Jul 31, 2019 rated it did not like it
I wasn't a huge fan of this one. The concept is cool but the execution great ...more
Amy Conlon
Jun 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-hugo
This story is set in a Thai village, where the the Loi Krathong festival river lanterns upon which people write their secret wishes end up. To me, this story reads like a fable, or maybe a parable. A Buddhist parable, about the nature of wishes, which are desires, really. Part of the reason I read it as a parable or fable is the nicknames by which the characters are identified; a footnote indicates that using nicknames is the cultural norm, but the names given seem so archetypal to me that I hav ...more
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tor, short-story
I've often heard it's best to be careful what you wish for. That's the case for a young boy from the village of Doi Saket in Thailand. On the full moon of the 12th month (Thai festival of Loi Krathong), the people of his village collect the krathong, as well as a wishes, launched down the river, and try to grant them. The boy has no wishes, and he journeys to seek the head monk to ask him what he should wish for. What he discovers is that the altruism of the villagers is not universal, and there ...more
M.A. Kropp
This is another short piece that was nominated for a Hugo award in 2014. It is a fairy tale fable type of story rather than strict science fiction. The story takes place in Thailand, primarily in a village at the mouth of a river. Every year, the people of the villages upstream put wishes in paper boats and float them downriver, in the hopes that those wishes might be magically granted by the ink readers.

It's an interesting story, and, for the most part, well-written. It starts slowly, and there
M.A. Kropp
Dec 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-fiction
This is another short piece that was nominated for a Hugo award in 2014. It is a fairy tale fable type of story rather than strict science fiction. The story takes place in Thailand, primarily in a village at the mouth of a river. Every year, the people of the villages upstream put wishes in paper boats and float them downriver, in the hopes that those wishes might be magically granted by the ink readers.

It’s an interesting story, and, for the most part, well-written. It starts slowly, and there
Jun 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


the story has a bit of a rough start in my opinion. it seems like the author is seeking his groove and had some good ideas he wanted to include even if they were not the best fit. there are a few paragraphs that seem a bit forced as well, but once he gets going, the amusing tale flows. this glimpse into views that are mostly unfamiliar or uncommon in our culture prompted me to evaluate what I do believe and where those beliefs originated in my world. overall, this is a witty tale of life i
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Dutch novelist THOMAS OLDE HEUVELT (1983) is the author of five novels and many short stories. His work has appeared in many languages, including English, Chinese, Japanese, Italian and French. In 2015, his story The Day the World Turned Upside Down was the first ever translated work to win a Hugo Award. Two more of his stories have been nominated for both Hugo and World Fantasy Awards.

In 2016, Ol

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