7 Best Thai Authors Of All Time

Thai literature offers imaginative poetry, short stories, and more. Here, we’ll explore the best Thai authors to add to your must-read list.

Thai culture isn’t just about spicy food and gorgeous ocean views. While Thailand, previously known as Siam, is a fantastic place to live or visit, the country also offers a rich literary history, full of short stories, science fiction, and books that describe what it’s like to live in Thai society.

Classic Thai literature was typically expressed through poetry, sharing imaginative tales of life in Southeast Asia. Modern Thai literature continues in many of the traditions of the past. Thai authors offer good books that paint detailed pictures of tropical paradises and areas in far-flung corners of the world.

Like much of Southeast Asia, Thailand has embodied a heavy Indian influence, retaining many Far East traditions and religions. Many scholars note that Thai literature is quite different from Japanese and Chinese texts. It includes long, descriptive, poetic stories and epic poems that take readers on a journey through a character’s life.

Popular Thai Authors

Best Thai Authors

Most Thai literature is written in the Thai language. Pre-modern Thailand had an extensive collection of original literary works, but much of the original literature was destroyed with the fall of the city of Ayutthaya in the mid-1700s. Thankfully, much of the influence of old-time Thai literature remains today. Other nearby countries have also been influenced by Thai literary traditions, including Burma, Cambodia, and Laos. Be sure to pick up some new books by the following Thai authors.

1. Pitchaya Sudbanthad

Pitchaya Sudbanthad’s debut novel, Bangkok Wakes to Rain, is beloved by critics and readers alike. Selected as a notable book by both the Washington Post and the New York Times, Bangkok Wakes to Rain provides readers from the city and rural environments with a unique view of different times and spaces. The book is described as a cross between a collection of short stories and a novel. Sudbanthad manages to tell a cohesive story in a non-linear fashion, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat, wondering where (and when) they’re going to go next.

In addition to Bangkok Wakes to Rain, Sudbanthad has written many essays, including Letter from Brooklyn: Finding Justice in the Streets, In the Ring with Rose Baan, Panang Lasagna, and Of North and South. Notable short stories from the Thai author include Good Neighbors, The Mountains Will Have Vanished, and Broken Skin with Water and Dirt.

Currently, the author spends some of his time in Brooklyn while also residing in Bangkok. He’s been widely recognized for his work and received a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship for fiction writing in 2015. In 2018, he was awarded a MacDowell grant for fiction writing.

Bangkok Wakes to Rain: A Novel
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Pitchaya Sudbanthad (Author) - Euan Morton (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 02/19/2019 (Publication Date) - Penguin Audio (Publisher)

2. Chart Korbjitti

Best Thai Authors: Chart Korbjitti
User:Lerdsuwa, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Chart Korbjitti’s first claim to fame was his novel Khamphiphaksa (The Judgment), published in 1981. The book received massive critical acclaim. Thailand’s Literature Council named the work the 1981 Book of the Year. He also won his first S.E.A. Write Award for Khamphiphaksa (his second S.E.A. Write Award came in 1994 for his novel Wela (Time).

The author wrote his first short story at just 15 years old. The story was called Nak Rian Nak Leng and was published at Korbjitti’s school. Ten years later, in 1979, Korbjitti’s novel Phu Phae won Lok Nangsue magazine’s Cho Karaket short story award.

In addition to creating short stories, Korbjitti has also founded his own publishing house, Howling Books (Samnakphim Hon). The author now publishes all of his work through his publishing house. Works from Korbjitti include Lom Long, a screenplay released in 2000; Ple Yuan Tai Ton Nun, a collection of articles ranging from 1999-2003; and Raingan Thueng Phanathan Nayok Ratthamontri, a novella published in 1996.

Mad Dogs and Co
  • Chart Korbjitti (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 510 Pages - 01/01/2002 (Publication Date) - Howling Books (Publisher)

3. Kukrit Pramoj

Best Thai Authors: Kukrit Pramoj
Norman Peagam, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kukrit Pramoj was born in Buri, Siam, in 1911 and took on many roles throughout his life. While a well-known author, he was also a professor, academic, and politician. Pramoj served Thailand as the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the mid-1970s. He also served the nation as the Prime Minister from 1975 to 1976. As a member of the Thai royal family, Pramoj was born into wealth and many educational opportunities.

Pramoj attended boarding school in England at Trent College and eventually completed his college degree at the University of Oxford. After graduation, he worked as a banker but felt a calling to politics and the arts. Pramoj worked with his brother, Seni, to write The King of Siam Speaks. The brothers sent the text to American politician Abbot Low Moffat. Eventually, Pramoj donated the text to the Library of Congress.

In his series Four Reigns, Pramoj created a fictional character named Mae Ploy to help him tell the tale of how people in Thailand were adjusting to modern society. Pramoj wrote with a heavy dose of satire and had a unique sense of humor appreciated by many readers. In addition to his fictional works, Pramoj also wrote contemporary history pieces, astrology works, and more.

Four Reigns
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Pramoj, Kukrit (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 663 Pages - 12/01/1998 (Publication Date) - Silkworm Books (Publisher)

4. Prabda Yoon

Best Thai Authors: Prabda Yoon
CampK, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Prabda Yoon is a multi-hyphenate Thai creative phenom. He’s worked as a media personality, translator, filmmaker, artist, novelist, magazine editor, and graphic designer. While Yoon was born in Bangkok, his critically acclaimed literary debut, Muang Moom Shak (City of Right Angles), occurs in New York City. 

Throughout his storied career, Yoon has written more than 20 books. He’s also designed more than 100 book covers for other authors. Yoon has written two screenplays: 2003’s Last Life in the Universe and 2006’s Invisible Waves.

Some of Yoon’s most notable works include Flood in the Eyes, This Really Happened, Ancient Planet, Panda, Under the Snow, Water for the Skull, and Please Don’t Read, Carefully.

Yoon’s works The Sad Part Was and Moving Parts were translated into English by Mui Poopoksakul, a lawyer-turned-translator who worked closely with the author.

5. Rattawut Lapcharoensap

Rattawut Lapcharoensap is a Thai author best known for his short story collection, Sightseeing. The writer was born in Chicago but grew up in Bangkok. After finishing high school, Lapcharoensap returned to the United States to attend graduate school at the University of Michigan. He completed his studies with a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.

Two short stories from SightseeingAt the Cafe Lovely and Draft Day—were used to create the film How to Win at Checkers (Every Time). Much of the author’s work has been critically acclaimed. In 2010, Lapcharoensap received the prestigious Whiting Award, and in 2006, he was listed in the National Book Foundation’s five-under 35 list.

Sightseeing
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Lapcharoensap, Rattawut (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 12/12/2005 (Publication Date) - Grove Press (Publisher)

6. S. P. Somtow

Best Thai Authors: S. P. Somtow
Somtow at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

S.P. Somtow is a multi-talented Thai author and composer who is a citizen of Thailand and the United States. The author’s literary works span several genres, including fantasy, science fiction, and horror.

Somtow was born into a royal family in Bangkok but moved to England as a baby with his parents. He attended primary school in England and returned to Thailand for several years, where he learned the Thai language.

As a child, he wrote a poem entitled Kith of Infinity. It caught the eye of actress Shirley MacLaine, who mistakenly thought that a deceased female poet wrote the poem. MacLaine included the poem in her autobiography.

Somtow has published several stories as an adult, including Vampire Junction, Inquestor, Jasmine Nights, Mallworld, and The Laughing Dead. In addition to his literary work, Somtow composed several symphonies, a ballet, and an opera-ballet hybrid entitled Suriyothai. He also wrote an opera entitled Madana in 2000 and is working on two additional operas. 

Another Avatar (Kris and the Dragon Jade Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Somtow, S.P. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 65 Pages - 07/21/2020 (Publication Date) - Diplodocus Books (Publisher)

7. Veeraporn Nitiprapha

Veeraporn Nitiprapha is a Thai novelist and short story author who is often praised for her lyrical writing style. While she spent most of her life in Bangkok, she also studied in Australia. She got her literary start writing as a fashion editor and advertising copywriter. Nitiprapha is well-known for her first book, The Blind Earthworm in a Labyrinth, for which she was awarded the 2015 S.E.A. Write Award.

The author is the first woman to win the S.E.A. Write Award twice, as she was also honored with the award in 2018 for her novel Phutthasakkarat Asadong Kub Song Jam Khong Song Jam Khong Maew Kularb Dam (The Dusk of Buddhist Era and Memory of Black Rose Cat).

Memories of the Memories of the Black Rose Cat
  • Nitiprapha, Veeraporn (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 330 Pages - 06/26/2022 (Publication Date) - River Books (Publisher)

Best Thai Authors: The Final Word

Thai literature invites readers into a descriptive world, complete with language that paints a clear picture of a new environment. Many Thai writers use their native Thailand and other hotspots around the globe as settings in their writing, making it fun and exciting for readers to explore new worlds as they work their way through Thai novels.

If you liked this round-up of the best Thai authors, you might also be interested in checking out the best Russian authors. It’s full of great reading recommendations. You may also enjoy our guides on the best Bildungsroman authors and the best Indonesian authors

FAQs On The Best Thai Authors

What Was The First Recorded Piece Of Thai Literature?

The first known piece of Thai literature is the Traibhumikatha (also known as the Trai Phum Phra Ruang), which translates to The Three Worlds According to King Ruang. The piece was composed in the mid-1300s.

How Is Thai Literature Different From Other Types Of Asian Literature?

Thai literature is more descriptive and reliant on flow than other types of Asian literature (such as the standard historical literature from China and Japan). Historically, Thai literature also included epic poems, putting the country’s literary history more in line with Greeks and Romans than Thailand’s neighboring countries.

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