Writer and lawyer Alice Pung was born in Footscray, Victoria, and grew up in Braybrook, attending local primary and secondary schools in the Western suburbs of Melbourne. Her parents are Teochew Chinese from Cambodia, who sought refuge in Australia in 1980 after fleeing the Khmer Rouge.
Pung was educated in a number of Melbourne schools, including what was then Christ the King College (now Christ the King Primary school and Caroline Chisholm Catholic College), a Catholic girls' school. A qualified lawyer, she still undertakes work as a legal researcher in the areas of minimum wages and pay equity.
Pung worked extensively with both primary and secondary school students, as an art instructor, independent school teacher, and student mentor. she has been Writer in Residence and pastoral care adviser at Janet Clarke Hall, the University of Melbourne. In the wake of her young-adult novel Laurinda, she compiled and edited a collection of short stories by Australian secondary-school students influenced the themes of the novel, in My First Lesson.
Pung's work has been widely taught in Australian universites, particularly the memoir Unpolished Gem and the edited collected Growing Up Asian in Australia. Among her awards are the Ethel Turner Prize (NSW Premier's Literary Awards), the Western Australian Premier's Award (non-fiction), and the ABIA Award for Newcomer of the Year. She has also been shortlisted for awards such as the Colin Roderick Award, the 'Nib', the Age Book of the Year Award, the Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-fiction (NSW Premier's Literary Awards), and the Barbara Jefferis Award. Laurinda was longlisted for the Stella Prize, which has never yet been won by a young-adult novel.
In addition to work individually indexed on AustLit, her work has also appeared widely in Australian periodicals, including Meanjin.
'Following the success of Alice Pung’s first YA novel, Laurinda, comes a collection of vivid and surprising stories from young Australians. Inspired by themes of identity and belonging, conflict and bullying, power and fairness, Alice has selected 25 stellar stories from hundreds of entries by Australian secondary school students.' (Source: Publisher's website)
'When my dad dropped us off at the front gate, the first things I saw were the rose garden spreading out on either side of the main driveway and the enormous sign in iron cursive letters spelling out LAURINDA. No 'Ladies College' after it, of course; the name was meant to speak for itself.
'Laurinda is an exclusive school for girls. At its secret core is the Cabinet, a trio of girls who wield power over their classmates - and some of their teachers.
'Entering this world of wealth and secrets is Lucy Lam, a scholarship girl with sharp eyes and a shaky sense of self. As she watches the Cabinet at work, and is courted by them, Lucy finds herself in a battle for her identity and integrity.
'Funny, feisty and moving, Laurinda explores Lucy's struggle to stay true to herself as she finds her way in a new world of privilege and opportunity.' (Publication summary)
Her Father's Daughter2011single work autobiography 'At twenty-something, Alice is eager for the milestones of adulthood: leaving home, choosing a career, finding friendship and love on her own terms. But with each step she takes she feels the sharp tug of invisible threads: the love and worry of her parents, who want more than anything to keep her from harm. Her father fears for her safety to an extraordinary degree - but why?
'As she digs further into her father's story, Alice embarks on a journey of painful discovery: of memories lost and found, of her own fears for the future, of history and how it echoes down the years. Set in Melbourne, China and Cambodia, Her Father's Daughter captures a father-daughter relationship in a moving and astonishingly powerful way.' (From the publisher's website.)