I visited Bangkok and Thailand and I still remember the mysterious mixture of tradition and super-modernity - encountered in other places in Asia, like Japan. Before embarking on my trip I knew some basic old and recent historical and political data, but it was not enough to really grasp the spirit of the places I was visiting. Without this deep familiarity with a place, we are nothing more than tourists, with a very superficial or nonexistent view of the human network.
In my opinion, this is also due to the fact that you rarely find information about Thailand other than of touristic nature. Before reading Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad I haven't known any other Thai author. The serious information about this country and its authentic culture seem to flow in very elitist environments, rarely succeeding to reach at least a middle-level audience.
Shortlisted for the 2020 Edward Stanford Fiction with a Sense of Place award, this book is a jewel of literary work. It fills the geographical map of Bangkok with a human sense. It gives life to corners and streets and street food. It build up the human belonging. It makes Bangkok real through its humans, even as for now they are displaced; their spirit is still wandering the rain-washed streets of Bangkok. Throughout the book ones wanders the streets of the city that comes to life through the stories of its inhabitants. Humans and places co-exist together in a symbiotic relationship. No love, no hate, but the feeling of belonging. Is like the fact that you were born or lived in a place cannot be separated from your identity; it grows up within you, no matter what.
Bangkok Wakes to Rain is such a beautiful, intense book, nostalgic and full of love. It is written with an unique art of playing with words. After this book, Bangkok will never be the same. All the touristic superficial assumptions are dramatically washed leaving instead the mystery which is what makes every city unique.
Rating: 4 stars