Bangkok Wakes to Rain

Available wherever books are sold

US edition (Penguin Random House Riverhead Books)
Bookshop (Buying from benefits me and many U.S. independent bookstores)
Apple Book / Barnes & Noble / Books-A-Million / Indiebound / Powell’s / PRH
English-language audiobook (via a local bookstore)

UK edition (Hachette Hodder & Stoughton Sceptre)
Hodder / Waterstones / WH Smiths

Italy: Fazi Editore (translator: Silvia Castoldi); France: Editions Rivages (translator: Bernard Turle)


A house in Bangkok becomes the confluence of lives shaped by upheaval, memory, and the lure of home.

A missionary begs to be moved from disease-ridden Bangkok. A musician plays a private show for ghosts. A student abandoned by his lover bleeds to death in the street. A plastic surgeon designs a girl a new face. A woman decides whether to cook a final meal for a dying murderer.

Time collapses as these stories collide and converge, linked by blood, memory, yearning, chance, and the forces voraciously making and remaking the amphibian, ever-morphing city itself.

Praise and reviews

New York Times Notable Book of the Year and Editors’ Choice Selection
Washington Post Notable Work of Fiction of the Year
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year
Finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Casa delle Letterature Bridge Book Award, the Edward Stanford Award, the Chautauqua Prize
Longlisted for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award

“An important, ambitious, and accomplished novel. Sudbanthad deftly sweeps us up in a tale that paints a twin portrait: of a megacity like those so many of us call home and of a world where sanctuary is increasingly hard to come by.”
Mohsin Hamid, author of Exit West

“A bold and tender novel with a simple, ingenious conceit—the stories a house can contain, from a city’s colonial past to its antediluvian future. Sudbanthad arrives to us already a masterful innovator of the form—a startlingly original debut.”
Alexander Chee, author of Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night

“Beautifully textured and rich with a sense of place, this is a big, ambitious book. I love the way Sudbanthad so compellingly captures not only the long arcs of these lives—but also the smallest moments, and how those moments linger in memory, how they haunt.”
Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Dreamers and The Age of Miracles

“Gorgeously polyphonic and saturated in the senses, Bangkok Wakes to Rain brims with a wistful and gripping energy. Sudbanthad carries us through time and space with a magician’s hand, with a visionary’s eye—he brilliantly sounds the resonant pulse of the capital city, of his characters’ lives. This wise and far-reaching meditation on home will sink into your bones.”
Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus

“Pitchaya Sudbanthad’s beautiful, ambitious first novel moves with an elegant restlessness that seems to match the city’s own. Reading this book feels like waking to a singular and important new voice.”
Rajesh Parameswaran, author of I Am an Executioner

“A portrait of Bangkok that sweeps across a century and a teeming cast of characters that shines with exquisite detail…This breathtakingly lovely novel is an accomplished debut, beautifully crafted and rich with history rendered in the most human terms.”
Kirkus Review (starred review)

“This teeming debut novel…recreates the experience of living in Thailand’s aqueous climate so viscerally that you can feel the water rising around your ankles.”
— Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“…ghosts and spirits and discarded dreams orbit, even as people try to outpace the past…[stories] intersect and build on one another, like banana leaves woven to make a floating offering for the water spirits.”
—Hannah Beech, The New York Times (Editors’ Choice pick)

“Fluid in its structure and aqueous in its themes, the novel vividly evokes the teeming, sweltering city…”
The New Yorker

“Ambitious and sweeping, yet at once intimately crafted and shot through with fine detail, Bangkok Wakes to Rain is a sumptuous accomplishment.”
— Angela Ledgerwood, Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire

“[W]ith its wide cast and still wider timeframes, Pitchaya Sudbanthad’s debut rewards close attention….Bangkok unifies his characters’ lives and, in a climate of concern for the city’s future, amid rising sea levels, so does water, with its fearsome power to transform, disrupt, slaughter and redeem…”
Zoë Apostolides, Financial Times

“This exuberant debut is a swirling, multi-generational tale that shifts from the historical to the futuristic. In a swirling, always surprising storytelling structure…Sudbanthad skilfully orchestrates the huge cast of characters. “
Tash Aw,The Guardian

« Le divin et l’effroyable se mêlent pour faire de ce livre un portrait original d’une ville piège, à la fois enchanteresse et tentaculaire.»
Florence Noiville, Le Monde

“…Sudbanthad’s remarkable debut novel is a paean to Bangkok past, present and future…Poignant tales interweave with silhouettes of rain—lots of rain—and the rain has its own story to tell…The most sublime work of fiction on Bangkok has arrived.”
— Sawarin Suwichakornpong, Bangkok Post

« Bangkok déluge décrit à merveille l’atmosphère de cette ville tentaculaire, écrasée par les pluies discontinues au point d’être en partie engloutie par les eaux.»
Frédérique Roussel, Libération

“…the Thailand-born, Brooklyn-based author beautifully weaves together vignettes told across different centuries, treating time like a fluid construct..”
BK Magazine (BK Awards: Best New Writer)

“Through shifting time periods and viewpoints, this prismatic debut peels back the layers of a Thai manse, whose past residents—among them a disillusioned American missionary and a world-weary jazz musician—still haunt its hallways metaphorically and literally.”
Mansuda Arora, H.C., Michelle Hart, O, The Oprah Magazine

“…Sudbanthad spans an entire century in his vast, illuminating portrait of Bangkok…”
David Canfield, Entertainment Weekly

“[Sudbanthad’s] glittering tales of the title city accumulate into a mosaic of jagged puzzle pieces whose chronological leaps make the whole thing come together only more powerfully by the end.”
Boris Kachka,Vulture

“…a deviously evocative piece of work: one can almost smell the rain.”
— Toh Wen Li, The Straits Times

“In questo micro-spaccato c’è molta della poetica di Pitchaya Sudbanthad e la sua capacità di creare una ciclicità – attraverso un montaggio puntiglioso, preciso e mai affrettato…”
—Simone Pierrani, Il Manifesto

“Bangkok Déluge est un roman bouleversant, captivant à chaque page, et peuplé de beauté vibrante.
—Yassi Nasseri, Kimamori

“…monumental and polyphonic…Sudbanthad’s elaborate, time-hopping saga explores class stratifications, intercultural connections and disconnections, and finely textured layers of history, all the while raising fascinating questions about the future.”
—Kathleen Rooney, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“…a stunning debut novel…Bangkok Wakes to Rain is itself a sort of house of ghosts and those haunted by them, in a cycle of vivid life and aching loss.”
—Colette Bancroft,Tampa Bay Times

“Sudbanthad thinks big and casts wide and his efforts pay huge dividends. This is an ambitious debut also a supremely accomplished one.”
— Malcolm Forbes, The Herald (Scotland)

“…an enthralling debut from an exciting new voice in fiction.”
—Franny Jackson, Paste Magazine, Best Novels of 2019

“[M]editative…beautifully wrought…all of Sudbanthad’s characters live and breathe with authenticity, and his prose is deeply moving, making for an evocative debut.”
Publishers Weekly

“…Bangkok Wakes to Rain already looks set to be one of 2019’s essential reads.”
Lit Hub

“…Bangkok Wakes to Rain feels like watching a spinning top stay perfectly upright. The stories move together to create a potent, elegiac whole…This is an assured debut, a testament to Sudbanthad’s skill that he succeeds at such a conceptually and formally challenging work…”
—Noah Cruickshank, Shelf Awareness

Sotto la pioggia si rivela un ottimo debutto per un autore che scrive in modo vivido e al contempo umano.”
—Giovanna Giraldi, Solo Libri

“…beautifully written, epic…”
—Caroline Rogers, Southern Living, The Best New Books of Winter 2019

“…Sudbanthad collects vignettes together like drops of water, building toward a heavy storm mirroring the turbulent hearts of his characters…”
—Ploi Pirapokin, Apogee

“Immersive doesn’t even begin to describe it: I sunk into this book — I almost felt like I drowned in it… it belongs in a league of its own.”
Lauren P. at Powell’s Books (Staff Pick)

“…a fantastically inventive and moving novel in stories. So rich in character and place, so aware of the invisible connections between people, this novel made me long to live in its world.”
Mary at Newtonville Books (Staff Pick)

“What a fantastic debut! The interwoven stories, with layers of characters across time, come together to tell a beautiful story of one place as it changes and evolves.”
Abby at Book People

“Dès le départ on se demande où va nous mener cette histoire…Dès le départ on sait qu’on ne lâchera pas ce livre car trop intriguant…Et résultat : Un roman ultra original, ultra bien mené, ultra addictif !!! Un régal.”
Librairie Les Arpenteurs