I wasn’t surprised to discover that Oliver Phommavanh, the author of Thai-riffic is a stand up comic.

Oliver is a seriously funny guy and his debut novel, Thai-riffic is hilarious.

The story is set in a Thai restaurant which goes by the same name as the book and in this restaurant live Albert, Kitchai and their Mum and Dad.

Albert is frustrated and embarrassed by his parents steely determination to hang onto their Thai heritage.

We moved to Australia when I was two so why don’t we have an Aussie surname? I want something easy like Smith or Jones. But I’m stuck with Lengviriyakul. It looks like someone ate alphabet soup and threw up the letters.

He has just started high school and seems pretty convinced that his family is the most embarrassing one that has ever existed.

Helping Albert cope with High School are his new friend Rajiv and his teacher Mr Winfree who has a moustache like a fat caterpillar. Mr Winfree helps him come to terms with his culture and also shortens his surname to something more pronouncable; Lengy.

Thanks to Mr Winfree’s fondness for Thai food and 20,000 fliers delivered by Lengy, business at Thai-riffic is booming although Albert would prefer it if the teaching population of  Marsden Park High didn’t frequent the restaurant.

And when Mr Winfree organises for an important food critic to visit Thai-riffic, things start to go horribly wrong.

Thai-riffic has plenty of Bow Thai and other Thai/tie related jokes to keep the reader giggling. This book explores mulicultural themes in a fun involving way and could promote a lot of discussion in the classroom.

It’s a book with unique perspectives, real problems for a kid starting high school, and it also touches on aspects of history.

Grandma’s our own Captain Cook. She discovered Australia for us. After Grandpa passed away, she trekked around the world visiting Thai temples and cooking for the monks. She loved Australia so much that she settled here in a Thai Temple.

Thai-riffic is full of warmth and humour and great characters and each one has their own special talents and place in the story.

Thai-riffic is a book that keeps you laughing from first page to last and will appeal to readers aged 9 +. But be warned, there’s a lot of talk about great food in this is not a book so it’s not to be digested on an empty stomach

It is published by Puffin, an imprint of Penguin and Oliver has a new book due for release later this year.

Published by

Dee White

Dee White lives with her husband and two sons in a small rural country town which has more kangaroos than people. She has worked as an advertising copywriter and journalist and has had numerous career changes because until recently, writing wasn’t considered to be a proper job. Letters to Leonardo, her first novel with Walker Books Australia, was published in 2009 to great critical acclaim.


  1. hi guys!! @ skool i’m reading thai-riffic and it is the best book ever!!! i love how it is funny and has a few comics…

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