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Join international bestselling author and poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai in conversation with host of The Vietnamese podcast Kenneth Nguyen to discuss her second novel written in English, Dust Child. Described by Viet Thanh Nguyen as “powerful and deeply empathetic… A heartbreaking tale of lost ideals, human devotion, and hard-won redemption,” Dust Child is set both during the Việt Nam War and in present day Việt Nam. Dust Child tells an unforgettable story of how those who inherited tragedy can redefine their destinies through love, hard-earned wisdom, compassion, courage, and joy.  

Quế Mai’s debut novel in English, The Mountains Sing, was an international bestseller, runner-up for the 2021 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, winner of the 2020 Book Browse Best Debut Award, the 2021 International Book Awards, the 2021 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award, and the 2020 Lannan Literary Award Fellowship for Fiction. 

Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai Born and raised in Việt Nam, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai is the author of The Mountains Sing, runner-up for the 2021 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, winner of the 2020 Book Browse Best Debut Award, the 2021 International Book Awards, the 2021 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award, and the 2020 Lannan Literary Award Fellowship for Fiction. She has published twelve books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction and has received some of the top literary prizes in Việt Nam. Her writing has been translated into twenty languages and has appeared in major publications, including the New York Times. She has a PhD in creative writing from Lancaster University. She is an advocate for the rights of disadvantaged groups in Việt Nam and has founded several scholarship programs, and she was named by Forbes Vietnam as one of twenty inspiring women of 2021. For more information, visit: www.nguyenphanquemai.com 


Kenneth Nguyen

Kenneth Nguyen is the host of The Vietnamese podcast and has recorded over 250 podcasts since he began in 2020. Previously, Kenneth held positions in the film industry before venturing out to develop film projects. A founding partner of Wave Releasing and EAST Films, Kenneth executive produced Saigon Electric including worked on Owl and the Sparrow, De Mai Tinh, and Six Inch Heels. Kenneth Nguyen served honorably as a former U.S. Marine (1993-97) and holds a B.A degree from the University of Southern California.


Quyen Ngo

Quyen Ngo is an actor, organizer, and trainer based in Los Angeles. She is the narrator of Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s Dust Child, as well as her debut novel, The Mountains Sing, which was a Finalist of the Audie 2021 Best Audiobook of the Year Award. She began her acting journey in middle school and continued training during her time at Brown University, where she also ventured into radio and voice acting. She is a translator of Vietnamese poetry and prose and believes both narration and translation work are sacred arts.


Dr. Jason R. Nguyen

Dr. Jason R. Nguyen is a celebrated musician of Vietnamese traditional music. He holds a dual-doctorate in Ethnomusicology and Communication & Culture from Indiana University, Bloomington. He has collaborated with Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai and Quyên Ngô in many performances to uplift Vietnamese literature. Trained as one of the top virtuosos of the single-string đàn bầu in the world, Jason is committed to using intergenerational dialogue to heal collective trauma. Forging a unique path as an artist and scholar, Jason has adapted all he has learned to contemporary contexts and communities, while respecting the deep knowledge and experience of his hereditary, spiritual and intellectual ancestors. For more information: soulgook.com


Photo Credit: Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai © Tapu-Javeri


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