Nguyen Phan Que Mai biography

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Nguyen Phan Que Mai

Nguyen Phan Que Mai

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Nguyen Phan Que Mai Biography

Dr Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai is an award-winning writer in both Vietnamese and English. Her eight books of poetry, short fiction and non-fiction in Vietnamese have received some of Vietnam's top literary awards including 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, a New York Times Editors' Choice Selection, Winner of the 2020 BookBrowse Best Debut Award, a Finalist of the Audie 2021 Best Audiobook of the Year Award, and Winner of the 2020 Lannan Literary Award Fellowship for "a work of exceptional quality" and for "contribution to peace and reconciliation". The novel 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 currently divides her time between Indonesia and Vietnam. Her journalism regularly appears in major Vietnamese newspapers.

Nguyen Phan Que Mai's website

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Interview

An essay by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai on The Mountains Sing, her debut novel in English.

In 1983, when I was ten years old, I went secretly to the post office in my hometown to mail a letter to Hà Nội. The letter contained my entry for a writing competition. When a notice arrived announcing that I had won a prize, my parents were shocked. Due to the long history of Vietnamese writers' experiences in my country, my parents reminded me of their wish that their only daughter would not become a writer.

I had to put aside my dreams of writing to do a variety of jobs to earn a living and help support my family. But the writer in me always listened to other people, always asked questions about their experiences during the war, and memorized their stories. In my teenage years, I began to travel to my parents' villages to talk with our elder relatives and family friends so I could imagine how life had been for my grandparents, who had either died or been killed before I was born. Gradually, the more I began to understand Việt Nam's painful past, the more people shared with me the events of their lives.

Unbeknownst to me, at that young age I was already carrying out the research for The Mountains Sing. It was only with time and distance and my ongoing academic research that I could comprehend the complexity ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Nguyen Phan Que Mai at BookBrowse
The Mountains Sing jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Nguyen Phan Que Mai but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Hala Alyan

    Hala Alyan

    Hala Alyan is the author of the novel Salt Houses, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Arab American Book Award and a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize, as well as the forthcoming novel The Arsonists' City, and ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Mountains Sing

    Try:
    The Arsonists' City
    by Hala Alyan

  • Violet Kupersmith

    Violet Kupersmith

    Violet Kupersmith was born in central Pennsylvania in 1989 and later moved with her family to the Philadelphia suburbs. Her father is a white American and her mother is from Da Nang, Vietnam.

    Her mother's family fled the ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Mountains Sing

    Try:
    The Frangipani Hotel
    by Violet Kupersmith

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