NGUYỄN PHAN QUẾ MAI

Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai (pronounced ŋwiən fα:n kwe mai) is the author of eleven books of fiction, poetry and non-fiction in Vietnamese and English. She is also the translator of seven books, published in Việt Nam and the United States.

Born in a small village in the North of Việt Nam in 1973, Quế Mai migrated with her family to the Mekong Delta, South of Việt Nam when she was six years old. Thanks to her academic achievements, in 1993, Quế Mai received a scholarship from the Australian government to study in Australia for four years. Upon her return to Việt Nam, Quế Mai worked for several international organisations, including UN agencies, to foster Việt Nam’s sustainable development. Quế Mai's main research area is the long lasting impact of wars. She has worked extensively with veterans and war victims. She has PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, United Kingdom, and is a Honorary Fellow in Writing of Hong Kong Baptist University. 

Quế Mai has been honored with the Poetry of the Year 2010 Award from the Hà Nội Writers Association, the Capital’s Literature & Arts Award, First Prize - the Poetry Competition About 1,000 Years Hà Nội, as well as the Việt Nam Writers Association’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advancement of Vietnamese Literature Overseas. The Los Angeles Review of Books, in their review of Quế Mai’s The Secret of Hoa Sen calls her 'one of Vietnam's foremost contemporary poets.' Quế 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.

Quế Mai currently divides her time between Indonesia and Việt Nam. She has been running weekly creative writing workshops for Afghan refugees at the Roshan Learning Center, Jakarta, Indonesia. She is actively involved in sustainable development work in Việt Nam and has been acknowledged with the Hanoi International Women’s Club Female Vision Award and the Australian Alumni Award for Sustainable Social Development. She regularly writes for newspapers of Việt Nam, including Tuổi Trẻ, where her essays on women and children's rights, education, environmental protection, job creation, and social ethics have been featured on the front page of this leading national newspaper.

Quế Mai's latest work, THE MOUNTAINS SING, is her first novel and also the first book she has written in English. She only had the chance to learn English from the 8th grade and with THE MOUNTAINS SING, Quế Mai has become the first Vietnamese citizen whose novel in English is published to international acclaim.

EMPOWERING OTHERS IS TO EMPOWER OURSELVES

Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai's keynote speech at UN Day, the Jakarta Intercultural School