Souvankham Thammavongsa

Souvankham Thammavongsa is a Canadian poet and short story writer. In 2019, she won an O. Henry Award for her short story, "Slingshot", which was published in Harper's Magazine.[1]

Souvankham Thammavongsa
Nong Khai, Thailand
Notable worksSmall Arguments, Found, Light


Thammavongsa was born in the (Lao) Nong Khai refugee camp in Thailand in 1978.[2] She and her parents were sponsored by a family in Canada when she was one year old.[3] She was raised and educated in Toronto, Ontario.[4] Her first book, Small Arguments, won a ReLit Award in 2004.[5] Her second book, Found, was made into a short film by Paramita Nath.[6] Her third book, Light, won the Trillium Book Award for Poetry in 2014.[7] Her short story "How to Pronounce Knife" was shortlisted for the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize out of 4000 entries.[8] In 2016, two of her stories, "Mani Pedi" and "Paris," were longlisted for the Journey Prize.[9]

Her first short story collection, How to Pronounce Knife, was published in 2020.[10] Australian literary critic Kerryn Goldsworthy wrote of them that "their language is economical but they are emotional timebombs".[11] The book was shortlisted for the Giller Prize in 2020.[12]

Thammavongsa is a judge for the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize.[13]


Poetry CollectionsEdit

  • Small Arguments (Pedlar Press, 2003)
  • Found (Pedlar Press, 2007)
  • Light (Pedlar Press, 2013)
  • Cluster (McClelland & Stewart/Penguin Random House, 2019)[14]

Short StoriesEdit


  1. ^ van Koeverden, Jane (17 May 2019). "Canadians Alexander MacLeod, Souvankham Thammavongsa & John Keeble win O. Henry Prize". CBC News. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Into the Field: Souvankham Thammavongsa". Jacket2. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  4. ^ "Souvankham Thammavongsa". Versefest. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  5. ^ "Thammavongsa Souvankham". Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  6. ^ "Found: The Film (Trailer)". Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  7. ^ "Trillium Book Award Winners". Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  8. ^ "2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize Shortlist - Commonwealth Writers". 31 March 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  9. ^ "Journey Prize longlists Souvankham Thammavongsa twice." Lao American Review. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  10. ^ "47 works of Canadian fiction to watch for in spring 2020". CBC Books, February 5, 2020.
  11. ^ Goldsworthy, Kerryn (2020-08-21). "Fiction reviews: How to Pronounce Knife and three other titles". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2020-08-22.
  12. ^ "3 novels, 2 short story collections shortlisted for $100K Scotiabank Giller Prize". CBC Books, October 5, 2020.
  13. ^ "Griffin Poetry Prize - 2021 Judges", Griffin Poetry Prize
  14. ^ "20 works of Canadian poetry to check out in spring 2019". CBC Books, January 25, 2019.