It’s no overstatement to say that Somtow Sucharitkul is one of Thailand’s most gifted and diverse artists, with work spanning across several artistic disciplines. Nonetheless, his name is not that familiar in Thailand, despite having penned more than 50 books with total sales exceeding two million copies, and some titles making the bestseller lists.
Somtow spent much of his childhood overseas. His father was a career diplomat, so Somtow got to experience several European countries. He has described himself as a man with two cultures whose duty is to explain the ins and outs of one culture to the people of the other. Besides his multi-cultural upbringing, Somtow also received a top-notch education, studying at England’s Eton school and then going on to graduate with first-class honours in music and English literature from Cambridge.
With the free-thinking mind of an artist, he has produced works that have achieved critical acclaim internationally under the pen name, S.P. Somtow. All of his literary works were originally written in English with some translated into Thai by his mother, Taitow Sucharitkul (the author of “Mongkut Dok Som” and “Dok Som Si Thong”, which became the talk of the town earlier in the year).
Somtow is also prominent in classical music and opera. Among his most outstanding productions was an operatic rendering of the Thai ghost story “Mae Naak”. Shown at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London, it was the first performance of a Thai opera anywhere in Europe. His production of this classic tale featured outstanding interpretations of rhythms and costumes.
Very few can claim to spend their lives in as many fulfilling and productive ways as Somtow Sucharitkul. He is founder of the Bangkok Opera and a composer for the Siam Philharmonic Orchestra. He also produces his own radio programme and is an avid blogger through Somtow’s World on www.somtow.org.