Bernice Chauly is a Malaysian novelist, poet, festival director and educator. Born in George Town, Penang, to Chinese-Punjabi teachers, she read Education and English Literature in Canada as a government scholar. She is the author of six books, which include poetry and prose; going there and coming back (1997), The Book of Sins (2008), Lost in KL (2008), the acclaimed memoir Growing Up With Ghosts (2011) which won the Readers’ Choice Awards 2012 and Onkalo (2013, “Direct, honest and powerful”–JM Coetzee). Her debut novel Once We Were There (2017), set against the Malaysian Reformasi of 1998 has been hailed as a “groundbreaking page-turner on the taboos of race, religion, sex, drugs, and Malaysian politics” – South China Morning Post, and “a stirring, necessary read.” –The Star, Malaysia. Once We Were There won the inaugural Penang Monthly Book Prize 2017 and the Readers’ Choice Awards 2018.
For 20 years she worked as a multidisciplinary artist and is recognised as one of the most significant voices of her generation.She has had residencies with theNederlands Letterenfondsin Amsterdam, Sitka IslandInstitute in Alaska, Taipei Artist Village in Taiwan and has participated in festivals in all over the world. Since 2011, she has directed the George Town Literary Festival, winner of the Literary Festival Award at the London Book Fair’s International Excellence Awards 2018. She is an Honorary Fellow in Writing from the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (IWP 2014) and is founder and director of the KLWriters Workshop. She currently lectures in creative writing at the University of Nottingham Malaysia.