Lapcharoensap, Rattawut 1979-
LAPCHAROENSAP, Rattawut 1979-
Sightseeing: Stories, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor of short stories to magazines, including Granta, Zoetrope, and Mystery Train. Contributor to books, including Best New American Voices.
SIDELIGHTS: Rattawut Lapcharoensap, born in the United States of Thai heritage and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, explores the convergence of Thai and U.S. cultures in his first book, the short-story collection Sightseeing: Stories. He also deals with class differences, the problems of youths transitioning to adulthood, and a host of other issues in the book's seven entries, all set in modern-day Thailand. In "Farangs," a teenager, son of a Thai innkeeper and a long-vanished U.S. soldier, is fascinated by a visiting American girl. In "Don't Let Me Die in This Place," a sickly old curmudgeon travels from Maryland to Thailand to live with his son, who has married a Thai woman and fathered what the older man calls "mongrel children." In the title story, a young man and his mother go to a vacation resort while they ponder their future: he is about to go away to college, while she is going blind. The book is a "brilliant debut collection" that offers "humorous and poignant portraits … snappily written and cleverly imagined," remarked Asra Q. Nomani in People. Booklist contributor Donna Seaman found the stories "superbly well paced, nimble, [and] vividly descriptive" and noted that the collection's title "resonates on many wavelengths."
Entertainment Weekly reviewer Jennifer Reese expressed some reservations about Lapcharoensap's writing, noting that "his portraits of Americans here never go beyond unflattering cliche." A Publishers Weekly commentator, however, thought that "all of Lapcharoensap's spirited narrators are engaging and credible." The critic went on to describe the collection as a "stellar debut" filled with "richly nuanced, sharply revelatory tales." A Kirkus Reviews contributor added that Sightseeing marks its author as "a newcomer to watch: fresh, funny, and tough."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 15, 2004, Donna Seaman, review of Sightseeing: Stories, p. 708.
Entertainment Weekly, January 28, 2005, Jennifer Reese, "Asian Fusions," review of Sightseeing, p. 86.
Houston Chronicle, January 21, 2005, Fritz Lanham, "Thai-American Scores with Debut Stories."
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2004, review of Sightseeing, p. 979.
Library Journal, October 15, 2004, Shirley N. Quan, review of Sightseeing, p. 58.
New York Times Book Review, January 9, 2005, Darin Strauss, review of Sightseeing, p. 26.
People, February 7, 2005, Asra Q. Nomani, review of Sightseeing, p. 49.
Publishers Weekly, August 9, 2004, Natalie Danford, "Not-So-Novel Approaches," review of Sightseeing, p. 130; November 15, 2004, review of Sightseeing, p. 46.