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Alice Pung

Pung in 2012
Pung in 2012
Born 1981 (age 42–43)
Footscray, Victoria, Australia
Nationality Australian
Education University of Melbourne
Notable works Growing Up Asian in Australia
Unpolished Gem
Notable awards Non-Fiction Prize in the 2011 Western Australian Book Awards; Australian Newcomer of the Year in the 2007 Australian Book Industry Awards

Alice Pung OAM (born 1981) is an Australian writer, editor and lawyer. Her books include the memoirs Unpolished Gem (2006), Her Father's Daughter (2011) and the novel Laurinda (2014).

Pung is a practising solicitor. She has also worked as an art instructor, independent school teacher at primary and secondary schools, and is Artist in Residence at Janet Clarke Hall at the University of Melbourne.

Life

Pung was born to ethnic Teochew Chinese parents from Cambodia. Fleeing the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, her parents sought asylum in Australia in 1980. Pung was named Alice after the protagonist of Alice in Wonderland, because her father saw Australia as a wonderland. She was born in the suburb of Footscray in Melbourne and grew up in Braybrook.

Pung attended five Melbourne schools, including the Catholic junior girls school Christ the King College in Braybrook (now the junior girls campus of Caroline Chisholm Catholic College), Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School, and Mac.Robertson Girls' High School. Pung studied law at the University of Melbourne and works as a legal analyst.

Writing career

Pung's first book, Unpolished Gem, won the 2007 Newcomer of the Year Award in the Australian Book Industry Awards. Her follow-up memoir, Her Father's Daughter, was published in 2011.

Her first book for young adults, Laurinda, was published in 2014. It was adapted for an American audience in 2016, and a collection of high school students' stories inspired by the novel was published in 2016. Pung has also written the Marly books for the Our Australian Girl children's series.

Pung attended the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa as a resident in 2009. She is a regular writer for The Monthly on topics such as race discrimination, class, cultural stereotypes, and experiences of living in Melbourne, Victoria.

In November 2020, the Melbourne Theatre Company announced that it will adapt Pung's novel, Laurinda, for the stage.

Awards and recognition

In the 2022 Australia Day Honours Pung was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to literature.

Unpolished Gem

  • Winner of the Australian Newcomer of the Year award in the 2007 Australian Book Industry Awards
  • Shortlisted in the Australian Biography of the Year and Australian Book of the Year in the 2007 Australian Book Industry Awards
  • Shortlisted in the 2007 New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards
  • Shortlisted in the 2007 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards
  • Shortlisted in the 2007 The Age Book of the Year Awards
  • Shortlisted for the 2006 Colin Roderick Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2007 The Westfield/Waverley Library Award for Literature

Her Father's Daughter

  • Winner of the Non-Fiction Prize in the 2011 Western Australian Book Awards
  • Shortlisted in the 2012 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards
  • Shortlisted in the 2012 NSW Premier's Literary Awards
  • Shortlisted in the 2012 Queensland Literary Awards

Laurinda

  • 2016 Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature (NSW Premier's Literary Awards)

One Hundred Days

  • Shortlisted in the 2022 Miles Franklin Award
  • Shortlisted for the 2022 Voss Literary Prize
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