Rattawut Lapcharoensap was born in Chicago in 1979. He grew up in Bangkok and studied at the Triamudomsuksa Pattanakarn School in the Thai capital, at Cornell University in New York, and at the University of Michigan. He graduated from the latter institution with a degree in Creative Writing. He has published short stories in magazines such as »Granta«, »Glimmer Train«, »Zoetrope«, »One Story« and in several anthologies, including »Best New American Voices« and »Best American Non-Required Reading«.
Lapcharoensap’s first short story collection »Sightseeing« (2005) has been published in eleven countries. In the seven stories the Western view of Thailand as an exotic holiday location is demystified mainly through the perspective of boy protagonists. The first story, »Farangs«, depicts the crude behaviour of pleasure seeking tourists, met with envious disdain by the Thais who depend on them. »You give them history, temples, pagodas, traditional dance, floating markets, seafood curry, tapioca desserts, silk-weaving cooperatives, but all they really want is to ride some hulking grey beasts like a bunch of wild men and to pant over girls and lie there half-dead getting skin cancer on the beach during the time in between«, the boy’s mother gives free reign to her anger. However, he falls in love for the umpteenth time with a tourist, an affair which is bound to end unhappily. The title story, »Sightseeing«, portrays a touching mother-son relationship and an affectionate portrait of the country, yet most of the texts present Thailand through an overwhelmingly critical lens: »Priscilla the Cambodian« tells the story of a pogrom of natives against immigrant Cambodians, while »Draft Day« shows how omnipresent corruption brings about the end of a friendship. Here the main theme of Lapcharoensap’s stories becomes explicit: The problems that emerge from social and economic inequality are a global phenomenon from which holiday destinations are not exempt.
In 2005 the collection won the Asian American Literary Award and was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award and the New York Public Library Young Lion Fiction Award. In the previous year the author held the David TK Wong Fellowship at the University of East Anglia, Norwich where he concentrated on his novel whose rights have already been bought in several countries. Lapcharoensap now lives in New York and teaches high school English in Manhattan. Most recently his collection of short stories »Valet« appeared in »Granta 97: Best of Young American Novelists 2«, in 2007.
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