Nam Le was born in Vietnam, and arrived in Australia with his parents as a very young child. He was raised in Melbourne, where he attended first Melbourne Grammar School and then the University of Melbourne.
At the University of Melbourne, Le completed a B.A. Hons (for which he wrote a dissertation on W.H. Auden under the supervision of poet Chris Wallace-Crabbe) and an LLB (Hons), after which he was admitted to the Supreme Court of Victoria as a lawyer.
While at the University of Melbourne, he was editor of Farrago, the university's student paper.
After completing his legal training, Le continued his writing studies and creative work with a succession of workshops and fellowships. He attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he completed a Masters in Creative Writing under such teachers as Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson.
He became fiction editor at the Harvard Review, and published his first short story in 2006. He took up fellowships at Provincetown, Massachusetts, in 2006 and at Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hampshire, in 2007.
His first short story publication in Australia followed in 2007, the year in which he also won both the Pushcart Prize and Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award.
Le returned to Australia in 2008, but was soon awarded another international fellowship, this time at the University of East Anglia.
In 2008, Le published The Boat, a collection of short stories.
In the same year in which it was published, The Boat won the Dylan Thomas Prize.
In 2009, it won the Prime Minister's Literary Award (Fiction), a Queensland Premier's Literary Award (Arts Queensland Steele Rudd Australian Short Story Award), an Australian Book Industry Award (Australian Newcomer of the Year), two New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards (UTS Award for New Writing and Book of the Year), and the award for The Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelist of the Year, as well as being shortlisted for more awards.
Also in 2009, Nam Le was selected as one the Weekend Australian Magazine's ten 'Emerging Leaders' in the 'Culture' category.
In 2010, The Boat collected more prizes, including the Kathleen Mitchell Literary Award and the PEN/Malamud Award (which Le won jointly with US author Edward P. Jones).
'In the magnificent opening story, "Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice," a young writer is urged by his friends to mine his father's experiences in Vietnam - and what seems at first a satire on turning one's life into literary commerce becomes a transcendent exploration of homeland, and the ties between father and son. "Cartagena" provides a visceral glimpse of life in Colombia as it enters the mind of a fourteen-year-old hit man facing the ultimate test. In "Meeting Elise" an ageing New York painter mourns his body's decline as he prepares to meet his daughter on the eve of her Carnegie Hall debut. And with graceful symmetry, the final, title story returns to Vietnam, to a fishing trawler crowded with refugees where a young woman's bond with a mother and her small son forces both women to a shattering decision.' (From the author's website.)