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Chamnongsri Rutnin is the pen name of Khunying* Chamnongsri Hanchanlash.

On returning to Thailand at eighteen, she became a reporter with an English language newspaper. Her career in journalism ended when she married the late ophthalmologist Uthai Rutnin and helped him establish the Rutnin Eye Hospital in Bangkok of which she still chairs the board of directors.She has since lectured at universities, staged public poetry readings, hosted a radio program and produced video documentaries.

The plight of disadvantaged adolescent girls in Northern Thailand moved her to set up Harbor House Foundation in Chiengrai to help those at risk of abuse, drug and prostitution. Deeply interested in Buddhism, she has spent long periods in forest monasteries.

Chamnongsri’s publications in both Thai and English include poetry, biographies, plays, tales, songs, children stories, articles and critique. Some of her poems and tales have been translated into Japanese and French as well as put to orchestral music for public performances and recordings. She has also translated several poems and short stories by Thai writers into English.

Chamnongsri has four children. She lives in Bangkok with her second husband, Dr. Jingjai Hanchanlash, a business executive and international development expert.

- John A. Eakin Foundation Award, 1981, Where Dusk Ends (Play)
- National Book Award for Children’s Literature, 2000, Orange-8-Legs

On the White Empty Page is a collection of poetry that is received enthusiastically both by Thai and non-Thai readers whereas Boats in Mid-Ocean is a saga based on her Chinese originated millionaire family.

On the White Empty Page Poetry

Rights: world

From the pen of Chamnongsri Rutnin flow these reflective poems and prose tales in which Eastern ‘aesthetics of reticence’ and meditative essence blend seamlessly with Western lyricism.

Chamnongsri is recognized as one of the rare Thai poets writing in both English and in her own native tongue.

'What Chamnongsri has done is to elevate a matter of manners
and emotions to a philosophic stance.'

critic and scholar

Click here to read an excerpt from On the White Empty Page.

Boat in a Mid Ocean family biography

Rights: world
English translation by Oraya Sutabutr in collaboration with the author available


A Saga of Migration

THIS VIVID AND POIGNANT narrative interspersed with colourful anecdotes spans the Wanglee family’s 130 years in Thailand, giving insights into its struggles, successes and tragedies, and its gradual assimilation into the Thai social fabric. At the dawn of the 20th Century, the family played multi-faceted pioneer roles in Thailand’s nascent but vitally important businesses – rice-trade, shipping, banking and insurance – and emerged as one of the country’s prominent and elite business dynasties.

Among the more dramatic and tragic episodes are the entanglements with politics during World War II when imperial Japan used Thailand as the springboard for its invasion plans of Burma via the infamous Death Railway; the mysterious assassination of a family member who was president of the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce; and the then-scion of the family who played a Schindler-like role when the Chamber was forced to recruit Sino-Thai laborers to build the Death Railway at the end of the war.

The portraits of the women, Thai and Chinese, are complex and filled with both humour and pathos. At least in the first three generations, the husbands travelled between Thailand and China, both of which countries they called home and where they kept separate families.

Click here to read an excerpt from Boat in a Mid Ocean.