AWW 2012 – Australian women writers of diverse heritage

After a request for titles from @ElizabethLhuede ( for Australian women writers of diverse backgrounds for the AWW 2012 challenge, I thought a blogpost might be in order (as opposed to a squillion tweets).

The list below is composed mainly of Asian Australian women writers as they are the ones I’m most familiar with, having done my Masters thesis on this topic. My PhD also included Asian Australian women writers, though I must admit to not being totally dedicated to keeping up since I moved away from literary studies (about five or so years ago). Apologies if I’ve missed any out – feel free to add them in the comments. Broadly, the authors are women of Asian descent who are based in Australia, and most of the texts are novels.

Even though quite a few of the texts are hard to get because they’re now out of print, I’m including them because you never know your luck in a second-hand bookstore.

I’m averse to allocating ethnicity or categorising writing too specifically, so the list is alphabetical, with minimal other detail.

Surnames are bolded, and I’ve included author websites and titles of books that I know. Many of these writers have interviews floating around on the interwebs; worth checking out to get a feel for their themes/topics/genres.

THE LIST – Australian women writers of diverse heritage
[Post updated 1 May 2012] 


SHALINI AKHILThe Bollywood Beauty

ANG CHIN GEOK – Wind and Water

DEWI ANGGRAENI – Listing of her books at Indra Publishing:

MERLINDA BOBIS White Turtle, Solemn Lantern Maker, Fish-hair Woman

ARLENE CHAILast Time I Saw Mother; Eating Fire, Drinking Water; On the Goddess Rock; Black Hearts


MICHELLE DE KRETSERThe Rose Grower, The Hamilton Case, The Lost Dog

YASMINE GOONERATNEA Change of Skies, The Pleasures of Conquest

SIMONE LAZAROOThe World Waiting To Be Made, The Australian Fiance, The Travel Writer, Sustenance

LAU SIEW MEI – Playing Madame Mao, Yin’s Magic Dragon (children’s book), Dispeller of Worries

SELINA LI DUKEWith Barbarian Ghosts, In the Year of the Dragon (children’s picture book)

REBECCA LIMPublisher’s page for Rebecca | The Sweet Life; Series: Mercy, Exile, Muse, Fury


LILLIAN NGSilver Sister, Swallowing Clouds


HOA PHAM | The Other ShoreVixen, Quicksilver, 49 Ghosts, No-one like Me

ALICE PUNG | Unpolished Gem, My Father’s Daughter; Growing Up Asian in Australia [anthology of Asian Australian writing – highly recommended as an introduction to the amazing variety of Asian Australian writers and styles]


HSU-MING TEOLove and Vertigo, Behind the Moon | (academic) Desert Passions: Orientalism and Romance Novels

CHI VU | Anguli Ma: A Gothic Tale


ALISON WONG (bit of a cheat: Alison was born in New Zealand, and lived there for many years; she’s now resident in Geelong, Vic) – As the Earth Turns Silver


Happy reading for AWW 2012! As mentioned above, please feel free to add names and novels below in the comments.

29 thoughts on “AWW 2012 – Australian women writers of diverse heritage

    1. Hi Indi – Not at all. But I limited the list to women who have had at least one book published, as the reading challenge is sort of premised on books.

      Totally agree that Julie’s FAB. 🙂

  1. catymallorca

    Hi, Tseen!

    Thank you so much for compiling such a list: it is very useful and handy! I think that Selina Li Duke, Helene Chung Martin and Ang Chin Geok could be included in the list. I´ve got Duke´s With Barbarian Ghosts (1998), Ang´s Wind and Water (1997) and Chung Martin´s Lazy Man in China (2004), although the three of them have more books published.

    Hope it helps!


    1. Thanks, Caty!

      Will add those authors and their texts. I had Selina Li Duke’s on my initial list but didn’t include her because she didn’t seem to be writing anymore…then re-thought this and realised it doesn’t matter. I should’ve remembered Ang Chin Geok – she’s been in contact with me in recent times, too. Mea culpa.

    1. Always happy to add to your list! It must be getting to an impressive size, no? Which reminds me: I haven’t checked in to goodreads for long while…

  2. Fantastic, thank you so much for this list. I’ve read a couple: Michelle de Kretser, Arlene Chai, Dewi Anggtaeni, Simone Lazaroo, and of course Chi Vu – and this shows you the value of a list such as this, because it brings them together as a resource. Still, I think the publishing picture is not as a ricj as it might be. If we wait for our immigrant voices to be proficient in English before they enter the publishing scene here, we may wait forever for some writers of great potential who only feel confident in their mother tongue. We ought to have a flourishing culture of books in translation here.

    1. Totally agree re translated books here. I know that Ouyang Yu (based in Melb) has translated many poems/novellas from Chinese to English, with some published through his own publishing imprint (Otherland) – see (esp. Bitter Peaches & Plums). Mostly, though, he translates English to Chinese for the OzLit market in China.

      I think it’s important, too, to broaden categories of Asian Australian writing as more than migrant narratives or only small steps away from ‘memoir’. One of the enduring issues with reviews and criticism of ‘ethnic writing’ is that it elides the author’s scope or ability to be ‘literary’. While some texts could occupy educative roles, the work isn’t only ever that.

      Thanks for your encouragement and support. It’s good to remind myself to update the list every so often! 🙂

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Marilyn, and I hope you find much to distract you in the list! As always, accessing these books from North America might be an issue. Pls feel free to drop me a line if you have difficulties tracking down certain texts.

  3. Thanks for this great list! Just a small (and slightly embarrassed) shout out for my book, “All Windows Open” – a namesake novella and short story collection. I like to describe it as Jane Austen meet My Big Fat Greek Wedding!

  4. Hi Tseen
    I’ve published an ebook on Kindle: The Chinese kung-fu Bushranger (YA), and a biography of my brother-in-law, a prominent philanthropist in Singapore (published by Rank Books Publisher Singapore).
    Do visit my blog: http:// www.
    Lillian Ng

    1. This is a great idea – and a great project for me to get my (reading) teeth into. Am already thinking of the authors I’ve read most in this category: Gabrielle Wang and Shaun Tan.

      Thanks for reading + suggesting!

      1. Isabel Yeo

        Awesome Tseen, looking forward to it.

        By the way I am part of a community language School in Leeming. We are overhauling our mini library with plans that mid next year it will be open to public (may have a membership fee but that is to be confirmed). Still in the early stages of transferring from card system to computer system.

        When we’re ready did you want me to shoot you an email so you could check out some multicultural reaources?

        We dont have any Aus Asian stuff though – we will need to fundraise to buy. A few Asian American books.

        ISABEL YEO Sent from Sony Xperia S on Vodafone

        Visit CWCS LEEMING LIBRARY ͼ’s Catalogue Ŀ¼ And +1 them on G+ 罻ý

        1. Sure, Isabel – would be interested in that!

          I have colleagues who have finished a major project on multicultural children’s books/writing, so I’ll be picking their brains for Asian Australian texts.

          1. Isabel Yeo

            Great! Oo id love to read their project too one day 🙂

            ISABEL YEO Sent from Sony Xperia S on Vodafone On 21/11/2013 11:42 AM, “The Banana Lounge” wrote:

            > Tseen Khoo commented: “Sure, Isabel – would be interested in that! I > have colleagues who have finished a major project on multicultural > children’s books/writing, so I’ll be picking their brains for Asian > Australian texts.”

  5. Michelle

    Hello Tseen,

    I am Michelle Cahill, a Goan Anglo-Indian migrant, residing in Sydney, author of fiction, essays and poetry, (Vishvarupa, Night Birds, The Accidental Cage), founding editor of Mascara and co-editor of Contemporary Asian Australian Poets, blogging at I am undertaking my DCA at UOW and my collection of short stories Letter To Pessoa is forthcoming. I can understand not being included on this list if it derives from surnames… skin and my writing are the markers of my South Asian ancestry. I’d love to be included here…


  6. Pingback: Focus on Australian Women Writers of Diverse Heritage | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

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