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May-lee Chai

May-lee Chai (翟梅莉) is the author of eleven books of fiction, nonfiction, and translation, including her 2022 short story collection, Tomorrow in Shanghai, a New York Times Editors’ Choice; Useful Phrases for Immigrants, recipient of the American Book Award; and her family memoir, The Girl from Purple Mountain. Currently, she teaches in the MFA program in creative writing at San Francisco State University. Her writing has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, Gulf Coast Prize in Nonfiction, named a Kiriyama Prize Notable Book, longlisted for The Story Prize, and recipient of an honorable mention from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights Book Awards. Her short prose has appeared widely, including in Seventeen, New England Review, Longreads, Paris Review Online, Kenyon Review Online, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Emancipator, Missouri Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Best Small Fictions anthology, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and cited as Notable in two editions of the Best American Essays anthology. She has volunteered as a Chinese to English translator for PEN American Center and is a board member of the National Book Critics Circle. She has lived in four countries and fifteen states in the U.S., including North Carolina where she taught in the creative writing program at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Website:  Twitter: @mayleechai

Ten Things I Can’t Do Without

  1. Books
  2. Movies
  3. My chosen family and friends
  4. A walk near trees, especially wind-swept pines
  5. My belief that access to a quality education should be a human right for every child
  6. Coffee
  7. An ergonomic desk setup/chair
  8. Writing
  9. Stationary supplies
  10. More books

May-lee Chai's contributions: