|Photo courtesy of Daniel Adams|
Bernice Chauly may be no stranger to readers in Asia but here AsianBooksBlog has the pleasure of talking to her about her first foray into the novel form and the challenges she found in writing her book Once We Were There.
Bernice Chauly is a Malaysian writer, poet, educator and festival director. Born in George Town to Chinese and Punjabi teachers, she read education and English literature in Canada as a government scholar. She is the author of six books of poetry and prose: going there and coming back (1997), The Book of Sins (2008), Lost in KL (2008), Growing Up with Ghosts (2011), which won the Readers’ Choice Awards 2012 in the non-fiction category, and a third collection of poems, Onkalo (2013), described by J.M. Coetzee as ‘direct, honest and powerful’.
For 20 years she worked as a multidisciplinary artist and is recognised as one of the most significant voices of her generation. Since 2011 she has served the director of the George Town Literary Festival, shortlisted at the International Excellence Awards at the London Book Fair 2017, and is an Honorary Fellow in Writing from the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (2014). She currently teaches creative writing at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. She is also the founder and director of the KL Writers Workshop. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, Once We Were There, was published in 2017 by Epigram Books (Singapore-London) and won the inaugural Penang Monthly Book Prize.