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Mar 11, 2021

Quế Mai shares how she wanted to write a novel set during the Vietnam War from the missing perspective of the Vietnamese themselves, specifically the women, who she felt were often portrayed in literature as having no agency, when actually they were unbelievably strong and resilient. We discuss how she wove ger country’s food, culture, proverbs and beliefs into a rich tapestry of a debut that made every best-seller list of 2020 (1400+ Amazon reviews), how her agent believed in her book so strongly she hand-carried her proposal to publishers and gave them a deadline to respond, and how Que Mai is a proponent of headstands to enhance writer’s productivity.

Dr Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai (pronounced ŋwiən fα:n kwe 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.

To learn more about Que Mai, click here.