Thommayanti, famed Thai nationalist writer, dies at 85

A file photo of Wimon Siripaiboon or Thommayanti. Photo: Thai Writers’ Association.
A file photo of Wimon Siripaiboon or Thommayanti. Photo: Thai Writers’ Association.

Thailand today lost a legendary novelist known for penning dramatic works that romanticized the past, drawing wide praise and acclaim as well as critics.

Thommayanti, the pen name of Wimon Siripaiboon, died today, the Thai Writers’ Association announced. She was 85; her cause of death has yet to be made public.

Though she wrote her most significant works decades ago, her novels have remained relevant through frequent adaptation into Thai soap operas and movies. Her most popular works include classic romance Khu Kam, a tale of star-crossed lovers – a Japanese soldier and Thai woman – set in Thailand during World War II. The novel was adapted into films in 1996 and 2013, stage musicals and a TV series. 

Another famous work was Thawiphop, which is about a Thai woman named Maneechan who is transported in time to Siam of King Rama V, where she falls in love with a young nobleman. 

She was named national artist in literature by the Ministry of Culture in 2012. 

But her veneration of power had a dark side as well. It was Thommayanti’s voice played over army radio in 1976, goading ultranationalist paramilitaries and security forces into murdering college students on the campus of Thammasat University. She took to the airwaves representing the so-called Army’s Housewives Society and gave fiery speeches denouncing student pro-democracy campaigners. 

She remained unrepentant. To her last day, her patent response was to say “My only mistake was loving my country.”

Read more Coconuts Bangkok stories here.

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