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Sightseeing

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,462 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews
A glorious fiction debut written with exceptional acuity by an award-winning twenty-five-year-old Thai-American writer. Read a complete short story at BookBrowse.

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 t
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Paperback, 250 pages
Published December 12th 2005 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
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Doug
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a really exceptional collection of short stories (well, in actuality, 6 short stories and a novella) ... and I say that as someone who doesn't generally appreciate the shorter format. Lapcharoensap has an uncanny ability to channel characters & narrators from widely varying backgrounds - from an elderly white semi-racist stroke victim (in 'Please Don't Let Me Die in This Place'), to a Thai teenage girl coping with her gambler father (in 'Cockfighter'), to a young refugee girl with go ...more
Marc
An engaging collection of stories centered around Thai characters. Lapcharoensap creates wonderfully unique, young voices that touch on everything from family relationships to global trade's impact on Thailand. Each one of the seven stories in this volume captured me in different ways, but all of them felt incredibly real. Pretty darn close to a five-star reading.
-------------------------------------------------------
WORDS I LEARNED FROM THIS BOOK:
farangs | rambutans | huakhuai (I guess I didn't
...more
Ardita
Jan 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Natasha
[4.5 stars]

Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap is an exploration, through finely crafted short stories of the inhabitants of Thailand and their journey to self-discovery. The collection focuses more on the poverty-stricken which I found very enlightening having never formerly met this area of Thailand even after visiting the place ~16 times in my lifetime.

The stories will leave you gasping for air, not fully grasping the weight of each of them until given a second. My emotions were wrought, s
...more
Trish
Mar 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia, fiction
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.
Sara Sams
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pintxosylibros
I've been reading this while vacationing in Thailand, a big stinkin' Farang myself, even using the word, proudly, with my taxi driver yesterday. Way ta go, self.

Anyways, perhaps even more so because I'm on the other side of the divide presently, I found myself craving more from each character in most of the stories, as if the "tour" (something each story here certainly isn't, but it becomes tempting to read them as such) were too short. Usually Lapcharoensap finds and settles on a compelling ima
...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
Fabio Tran
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author Lapcharoensap come from a multi-cultural upbringing that is visible in his debut collection of short stories, Sightseeing.

One of his characters hears his mom complain of the foreign tourists, farangs, during high travel season in Thailand between June and August. I picked up this book while travelling in the country, and I am sure the high season is between November and March, as Thailand is in the Southern Hemisphere. A small factual mishap.

Born in Chicago, raised in Bangkok, taught
...more
Sharon Bakar
Rattawat Lapcharoensap writes with both compassion and maturity and his Sightseeing is a wonderfully self-assured collection of short stories from a first time writer.

All but one of the stories are written from the point of view of teenagers coming to terms with a confusing adult world. And although the setting for each story is Thailand, Lapcharoensap steers well clear of the kind of exoticism that bedevils most South-East Asian literature. Indeed, the Thailand of the tourist brochure is roundl
...more
Sam
Aug 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
K.
3.75 stars, rounded up because I can. Don't tell me what to do.

I chose Sightseeing to represent Thailand in my read around the world challenge. Looking up reviews of this book, I found an academic article that posits Sightseeing may have been written as a response to expatriate writers:
"The typical gaze of these writers and their narrators--who are thrown into a strange world of drugs, corruption, sex, and Thai characters that "speak in aphorisms, like a Zen master" (7)--can be characterized as
...more
Sorin Hadârcă
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asia, short-stories
As powerful as Garcia Marquez or Hemingway. Well done for a debutante. Every word showed strength and endurance, last one including.
Maria Paiz
I read this book while traveling through Thailand, which gave me a better perspective about life for the Thai commonfolk. Lapcharoensap provides a series of short stories that describe ordinary Thai situations, both in the city and in the countryside. My favorite was "Cockfighter", about a man that earns a living by winning cockfighting bets who must face the local bully and his unfair play, while his wife and daughter worry about the consequences. "Farangs" was interesting to me because I learn ...more
McKenzie
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Janine Barzyk Ackerman
Jun 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Amy
Jun 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asian-experience
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
Katie
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
A must for anyone who has been or wants to go to Thailand, and who wants to better understand what it means to come of age in the country. Nowhere will you gain better insight into what it might feel like to be part of a Thai household than by reading this book (unless, well, you are a long term guest in an actual Thai household). The characters are rich and diverse, and each story is set in a different part of the country, which gives you the flavors of lots of different regions.
Alyssa Miyasato
Jun 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The stories in this book are based in Thailand so it uses some of they're native language which is nice. I enjoyed many of the short stories since they all show some type of deeper meaning. When reading the stories it's a good idea to look and what caused the circumstances that occurred.
Leslie
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Christel
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ztsz
This was a beautiful collection of stories! Don't let me die here was my favorite but I think they all worked well together. These stories portrayed a wide range of issues in a complicated and foreign land.
Garth
Apr 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Olga
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Dynamic yet pensive and bitter. Discover the other side of the Kingdom of Smiles.
Aria

This book was fine, but I do have a complaint. I became very confused close to halfway in about where my main character was and what was happening to him. As it turns out, this is a collection of short stories. Nowhere on the outside of the book does it state that. I looked inside and found one place where that information might have been, but it wasn't all that clear. On the inside, the title page has the title, of course, and under that it separately says "Stories," followed by some other inf

...more
Maya Man
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I bought this book because I wanted to read something by a Thai author before I went to Thailand on spring break honestly ultimately in some vain effort to not be an ignorant American tourist lol, but really I felt like I didn’t know much about the people and their local way of life so hoped that this book of short stories would shed some light on what it’s like to live in Thailand today. I think the stories got better as the book went on. They were all pretty short and often actually left me wa ...more
Claire
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories, asia
Another great collection of short stories that will be on my mind for some time. Lapcharoensap paints a varied and vivid picture of life in Thailand, from ambivalence towards “farangs” (foreigners) to wealth/class tensions, corruption (for example, the rigging of the draft in “Draft Day”) and biases against Cambodian refugees (in “Priscilla the Cambodian”). Many of the stories pit different forms of prejudice against each other, while still revealing glimpses of love and humanity mixed in with u ...more
Sally
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'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
...more
Romana Chapman
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
I have now lived in Thailand for 23 years and speak the language. I have many local friends and not only among the privileged. I have walked and driven country roads as well as those in the city with ears and eyes wide open. I have enjoyed my life in Thailand and come to love the people. This book has made me laugh out loud at times. More often though I have become uncomfortable with the author's choice of swear words. Thais may swear, I don't want to doubt the author there, but for a European t ...more
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The Armchair Trav...: * Sightseeing * discussion 2 15 Jan 29, 2016 12:42AM  
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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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