Suria Tei (Chiew-Siah Tei) was born and raised in Tampin, a small town in southern Malaysia., and now lives in Scotland.
She was widely published in Malaysian Chinese media in 1980s and 90s. Her first collection of Chinese prose, It’s Snowing (Oriengroup, 1998), is an account of her observation as an outsider in Scotland. This was followed by a collection of arts and film reviews, Secret and Lies (Mentor Publishing, 2000). She has since the 90s won awards for her Chinese prose, including Hua Zong International Chinese Fiction Award and National Prose Writing Award. In 2002, she was nominated Best Prose Writer of the year.
Suria went to Scotland in 1994 to read for an MPhil in Media Culture at the University of Glasgow. A chance participation in BBC Scotland’s Migration Screenwriting Programme led to the writing of her first screenplay, Night Swimmer. The completed film later won Best short Film at Vendome International Film Festival.
Returning to Malaysia in 1998, she worked as a lecturer of media studies and a freelance translator. In 2002, she left for Scotland again to pursue a PhD in creative writing and film studies at the university of Glasgow, where she began working on her first novel in English. The novel, Little Hut of Leaping Fishes (Picador 2008), was listed for Man Asian Literary Prize and Best Scottish Fiction Prize, and won Readers’ Choice Award (Malaysia). Her second book, The Mouse Deer Kingdom (Picador, 2013 by Picador, came third in Readers’ Choice Award (Malaysia).
In 2010, Suria was first awarded the inaugural Jessie Kesson Residency at Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre and later, Hawthorden International Writers’ Fellowship. These were followed by a residency at Cove Park in 2012, and last year (2013), Tei became one of the first Akrai Fellows at Palazzolo Acreide in Sicily.