Alison Wong | The commuting Book
Alison Wong


Alison Wong’s family first arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand in 1879 from Zengcheng/Jung Seng (  ), Guangdong, China. Her maternal great-grandfather, Huang Guomin (黃國民), raised money in New Zealand for the 1911 Revolution, and was called back to China by Sun Yat Sen to be county magistrate. In 1914, her paternal great-grandfather, Huang Weijin (黃維進), was murdered in Wellington; the case was never solved.

Alison grew up in Hawke’s Bay and has lived most of her life in Wellington. She spent several years in China in the 1980s and 90s, initially in Xiamen on a New Zealand – China student exchange scholarship, then later in Shanghai. She returned to Hong Kong/China for literary festivals and residencies through the 2010s, and now lives in Geelong, Australia, moving back and forth across the Tasman.

Alison’s novel, As the Earth Turns Silver (Penguin/Picador, 2009), won the 2010 NZ Post Book Award for Fiction and was shortlisted for the Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. It was nominated for the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and in 2018 was selected by Booksellers NZ as one of the top 20 bestsellers of the decade. Alison’s poetry collection, Cup (Steele Roberts, 2006) was shortlisted for the Jessie Mackay Award for first book of poetry at the 2007 Montana NZ Book Awards. Her work was selected for Best New Zealand Poems 20152007 and 2006. An NZSA mentor, she was also a poetry judge for the 2018 Ockham NZ Book Awards and in 2020 a consulting editor for the Asian culture site Hainamana.

Her fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction are anthologised, translated and published internationally. She has held the Robert Burns Fellowship, Shanghai International Writer’s Residency and Sun Yat-sen University International Writer’s Residency.

Photo credit: Phil Nitchie