Dr. Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai is committed to writing about war and injustice, to call for peace and equality. Her debut novel and first book in English, The Mountains Sing, is an International Bestseller and Winner of six literary awards.
Born in Việt Nam in 1973, Quế Mai grew up witnessing the war’s devastation and its aftermath. Thanks to her academic achievements, she won a scholarship to attend university in Australia. Quế Mai has a PhD in creative writing from Lancaster University, and is the author of eleven books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction in Vietnamese and English. Her writing in Vietnamese has received some of Việt Nam’s top literary awards including the 2010 Poetry of the Year Award from the Hanoi Writers Association. In 2021, she was named one of 20 inspiring Vietnamese women by Forbes Vietnam.
Of Quế Mai’s first novel in English, The Mountains Sing, Viet Thanh Nguyen writes, “It is in some ways, I would say, the Vietnamese version of The Grapes of Wrath.” The Mountains Sing is a New York Times Editors’ Choice Selection, Winner of the 2020 BookBrowse Best Debut Award, Winner of The Blogger’s Book Prize 2021, Winner of the 2021 International Book Awards in two categories (Literary Fiction and Multicultural Fiction), Winner of the 2021 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award, Runner-up for the 2021 Dayton Literary Peace Prize in Fiction, Winner of the Blogger’s Book Prize 2021, and Winner of the 2020 Lannan Literary Award Fellowship for “a work of exceptional quality” and for “contribution to peace and reconciliation.” Quế Mai is the first Vietnamese national whose writing in English has been published to international acclaim.
Passionate about literary exchanges to foster peace and reconciliation, Quế Mai has spent many years of her life translating poetry and other forms of literature. For her work in translation, she was awarded the Việt Nam Writers Association’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advancement of Vietnamese Literature Overseas.
Quế Mai currently divides her time between Kyrgyzstan and Việt Nam. Her second novel in English, Dust Child, is forthcoming with Algonquin Books.