"Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai has found a true and clear voice in English that is rich and compelling the way only those who come to English as a second language can sometimes manage." —Bruce Weigl
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 prestigious 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 twelve 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.” Her latest novel, Dust Child, was selected as a Best Book of 2023 by Reader’s Digest and Cosmopolitan, a Best Book of March/Spring 2023 by the Los Angeles Times, Library Journal, Ms. Magazine, and it was voted by booksellers around the country as an Indie Next Great Read.
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.
"Quế Mai’s work is more than just wanted, it’s needed – her empathy and courage are awe-inspiring. On top of that, she is also truly one of the kindest individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. "
Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
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