Young author Ton Chanrith was born in Battambang province to a farming family that also ran a small business, and after graduating from Moung Russey High School he began to pursue his passion for writing by earning a Bachelor’s degree in Khmer literature in Phnom Penh.
Chanrith has already scored a number of impressive awards and accomplishments over a short period of time and could be considered a rising star with a promising future in the Khmer-language literary world, having shown much promise so far and with his best work ahead of him.
“I was the runner-up for the radio drama What’s Wrong with Me? in 2020. I was the runner-up at the 2nd Writing and Public Speaking Competition on the Prohibition and Increase of Tobacco Tax in 2021. I was the winner in the writing and public speaking competition of the Ministry of Education on the topic of alcohol prohibition. I was also the 4th place winner at the Ministry of Culture’s Indradevi Literary Competition in 2022, with a short novel titled Bassac,” Chanrith recounted.
Chanrith said these achievements didn’t happen on accident, but were the result of hard work and perseverance to overcome life’s difficulties and complications.
“I haven’t given up on winning first prize, but I entered the competition a few times before I won fourth prize. In the process, I learned more about the competition and what the committee wanted. I just tried to do my best with my short novel, both conceptually and with its execution.
“If you want to win awards you have to be persistent and never give up. Try to develop your abilities and try to do your best. The works that win are the ones that have something special about them. If you fail, you should not be disappointed, it does not mean your work is bad, but it may not be what the competition wants and we have to find out and learn from each competition to be clear about what will win,” he said, adding that reading the past winning entries for inspiration is a good idea as long as it results in work that is still original.
Chanrith’s short novel Bassac is about the life of a Khmer Krom child with an unusual level of integrity, honesty and conscience.
He said that in his regular profession as a journalist he likes to promote the national culture because a living culture must not only be preserved but developed by spreading its messages to others.
For the upcoming 2023 Indradevi Awards, Chanrith said he definitely wants to participate but only if he has a work that he feels is fully developed and ready to seriously compete first.
In addition to his works submitted to competitions, Chanrith has also published several other books, including You’re Special, Now Let’s Move On and Mother Fairy Tale.