Dr Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai is an award-winning Vietnamese writer and journalist. She is the author of eleven books of poetry, short fiction and non-fiction. Her books in Vietnamese has received the 2010 Poetry of the Year Award from the Hanoi Writers Association, the Capital’s Literature & Arts Award, and First Prize in the Poetry Competition celebrating 1,000 Years of Hanoi. Her debut novel and first book in English, THE MOUNTAINS SING, is an International Bestseller, Finalist of the 2021 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Winner of the 2020 BookBrowse Best Debut Award, Winner of the Blogger's Book Prize 2021, Winner of the 2021 International Book Awards, Winner of the 2021 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award, and Winner of the 2020 Lannan Literary Award Fellowship for "a work of exceptional quality" and for "contribution to peace and reconciliation".

THE MOUNTAINS SING has been named a best book of 2020 by many media establishments including NPR and the Washington Independent Review of Books. Quế Mai is the translator of seven books published in Vietnam and the United States, and has received the Vietnam Writers Association’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advancement of Vietnamese Literature Overseas. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the UK's Lancaster University. She currently divides her time between Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam. She regularly writes for Vietnamese newspapers and her writing has appeared on The New York Times, BBC Vietnamese, Lit Hub, Poets & Writers Magazine, among others. She has been named by Forbes Vietnam as one of 20 inspiring women of 2021. Her second novel in English, DUST CHILD, is forthcoming with Algonquin Books.

Quế Mai is passionate about empowering others. In her voluntary roles, she is an editor of DVAN's publishing series, an Author Advocate for Room to Read, a creative writing teacher at the Roshan Learning Center for Refugees, and Founder and Head of Advisory Committee of Chắp Cánh Ước Mơ Volunteer Group.


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


  • "A sweeping story that positions Vietnamese life within with rich and luminous history of national epics like The Tale of Kiều and The Iliad. Expansive in scope and feeling, The Mountains Sing is a feat of hope, unflinchingly felt inquiries of the past, and the courageous story telling of the present."
    Ocean Vuong
    Author of the New York Times bestselling novel On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous.
  • “The Mountains Sing is an epic account of Việt Nam’s painful 20th century history, both vast in scope and intimate in its telling. Through the travails of one family, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai brings us close to the horrors of famine, war, and class struggle. But in this moving and riveting novel, she also shows us a postwar Việt Nam, a country of hope and renewal, home to a people who have never given up.”
    Viet Thanh Nguyen
    Author of The Sympathizer, Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize.
  • "Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai has written a wonderful, intricate story of the lives of a Vietnamese family trying to make it through generations of war. The Mountains Sing is a beautiful story of the simple challenge of keeping a family together and the courage of perseverance. It is told with the sureness of a master storyteller with a poet's spirit. A large and complicated story, marvelous to read."
    Larry Heinemann
    Author of Paco’s Story, recipient of the National Book Award