Nguyen Phan Que Mai is the author and translator of 17 books of fiction, poetry and non-fiction, published in Vietnam and the United States.
Born in a small village in the North of Vietnam in 1973, Que Mai migrated with her family to the Mekong Delta, South of Vietnam when she was six years old. Thanks to her academic achievements, in 1993, Que Mai received a scholarship from the Australian government to study in Australia for four years. Upon her return to Vietnam, Que Mai worked for several international organisations, including UN agencies, to foster Vietnam’s sustainable development.
Currently researching towards her PhD in Creative Writing with the UK's Lancaster University, Que Mai writes in both Vietnamese and English. Her works have appeared in many international publications including BBC Vietnamese, Prairie Schooner, American Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Great River Review, Red Wheel Barrow, Fourth River, Words without Borders, and Moving Worlds. Her writing has been translated and published in English, Spanish, Bahasa Indonesian, Chinese, Uzbek, Bengali, Hebrew, Japanese, and Czech. She has given creative writing lectures and presented her work in Vietnam, the Philippines, the United States, Colombia, India, Belgium, China, Venezuela, Hongkong, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Que Mai's main research area is the long-lasting impact of wars. She is passionate about literary exchanges amongst cultures and has introduced Vietnamese poetry on Prairie Schooner.
Que Mai has been honored with the Poetry of the Year 2010 Award from the Hanoi Writers Association, the Capital’s Literature & Arts Award, First Prize - the Poetry Competition About 1,000 Years Hanoi, as well as the Vietnam Writers Association’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advancement of Vietnamese Literature Overseas. The Los Angeles Review of Books, in their review of Que Mai’s The Secret of Hoa Sen calls her 'one of Vietnam's foremost contemporary poets.' Que Mai has also received grants and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation (the United States), the University of Lancaster (the United Kingdom), as well as the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development (the Netherlands). She is committed to writing about war and injustice, to call for peace and equality.
Que Mai is represented by Julie Stevenson from the MASSIE & McQUILKIN literary agency. Her debut novel in English, tentatively entitled THE MOUNTAINS SING, is forthcoming with Algonquin Books on March 17, 2019. According to the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen, this novel “is an epic account of Vietnam’s painful 20th century history, both vast in scope and intimate in its telling.” Que Mai's book for young readers, SEARCHING FOR EARTH CAKES AND SKY CAKES, is forthcoming in the United States with Benchmark Education in autumn 2019.
Que Mai currently lives in Jakarta, Indonesia with her husband and two children. She has been running weekly creative writing workshops for Afghan refugees at the Roshan Learning Center. She is actively involved in charity and sustainable development work in Vietnam and has been acknowledged with the Hanoi International Women’s Club Female Vision Award (2010) and the Australian Alumni Award for Sustainable Social Development in 2008.