I found this book hard to start but easy to finish. Once I was able to step back and take the time to dive fully into it, I appreciated it much much more. Bangkok Wakes to Rain is a beautiful book that deserves more than superficial attention.
The novel tells multiple stories across multiple timelines and tells about the places in which they interweave. These stories take place in mid-nineteenth century Siam and they take place decades in our own future, they take place in our present and our near past. It’s the same city through multiple lenses.
Once you get a handle on who our primary actors are and the spheres in which they exist, the book becomes much easier to follow. This may have also coincided with the time I finally sat down and stopped metro-reading this. Some characters we only meet for a few pages, others echo across timelines and hold on until the very end. It’s deftly done and Pitchaya Sudbanthad deserves high praise for the masterful juggling.
I think I most enjoyed the settings in “New Krungthep” (which Google tells me is the romanised short form of the ceremonial Thai name for Bangkok). This is a future in which is the cit is utterly flooded and a generation has been raised in what remains floating. It’s almost bizarre until you remember than Indonesia has just voted to move from their capital of Jakarta because the city is sinking. Sudbanthad invents a new world that suddenly feels all too real and it’s absolutely fascinating.
I loved the interweaving of his characters and the way names float back to the surface when you least expect them. All in all, it’s a really excellent book.