Teo, Hsu-Ming 1970-

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Teo, Hsu-Ming 1970-


Born 1970, in Malaysia; immigrated to Australia in 1977. Education: University of Sydney, Ph.D., 1998.


Home—Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Office—Department of Modern History, Macquarie University, North Ryde, New South Wales 2109, Australia. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer and historian. Macquarie University, North Ryde, New South Wales, Australia, research fellow. Taught history at the University of Sydney and Macquarie University.


Isabel M. King Memorial Prize for History, University of Sydney, 1992; Norman Harper Essay Prize for Best Undergraduate Essay in American Studies, 1993; Ernest Bramsted Prize for Modern European History, Department of History, University of Sydney, 1993; University Medal for History, University of Sydney, 1993; Frazer Traveling Scholarship and Farrington Thorpe Scholarship, University of Sydney, 1994; Australian postgraduate award, 1994-97; Australian/Vogel Literary Award, 1999, for Love and Vertigo; Macquarie University research fellowship, 1999-2002, and grant, 2001; Australia Research Council fellowship, 2000—.


Love and Vertigo (novel), Allen & Unwin (St. Leonards, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.

(Editor, with Richard White) Cultural History in Australia (nonfiction), University of New South Wales Press (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.

Behind the Moon (novel), Allen & Unwin (St. Leonards, New South Wales, Australia), 2005, Soho Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Love and Vertigo has been translated into Chinese, Italian, Thai, and German.


Hsu-Ming Teo is a historian and novelist who was born in Malaysia, but has lived in Australia since she was seven years old. In 1999, the unpublished manuscript of her novel Love and Vertigo won the prestigious Australian/Vogel Literary Award. Love and Vertigo was published in 2000 and has since been translated into Thai, Italian, German, and Chinese.

Several years passed before the publication of Teo's next novel, and in the interim, she published a volume of nonfiction edited with Richard White, Cultural History in Australia. In 2007, she published Behind the Moon, a novel that focuses on three alienated adolescents in suburban Sydney, Australia, where the author grew up. Outwardly quite different from one another, the three all share the dream of finding some place where they can feel happy and comfortable with themselves. The characters include Tien Ho, a young female refugee from Vietnam whose father was an African-American soldier; Justin Cheong, a Chinese-Australian boy who identifies himself as gay, and struggles with his family's homophobia; and Nigel "Gibbo" Gibson, an Anglo-Australian who desperately wishes to be Asian. The three drift apart after a time, only to come together once again at a dinner held in remembrance of the death of Princess Diana. The novel raises questions about the meaning and source of identity.

"Certainly the book will appeal to many adolescent readers," commented a reviewer on the Small Spiral Notebook Web site. "But Teo's narrator is a sly and unpredictable storyteller who entices readers of all ages to hike along intricate trails of the narrative, which often shift to reveal startling vistas." The book was also favorably reviewed by Mitchell Jordan in the Program; he wrote: "It is in the novel's ending that Teo pulls all her punches without sentimentalising her characters or plot. Here it's impossible not to be scared by her chilling portrayal of Australian life which is soaked in blood and warning."



American Historical Review, April, 2004, Gregory Melleuish, review of Cultural History in Australia, p. 504.

Choice, June, 2004, W.W. Reinhardt, review of Cultural History in Australia, p. 1938.

Journal of Intercultural Studies, February-May, 2006, Robyn Morris, "‘Growing Up an Australian’: Renegotiating Mateship, Masculinity and ‘Australianness’ in Hsu-Ming Teo's Behind the Moon," p. 151; February-May, 2006, "‘No Place like Home’: The Ambivalent Rhetoric of Hospitality in the Work of Simone Lazaroo, Arlene Chai, and Hsu-Ming Teo," p. 117.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2006, review of Behind the Moon, p. 1101.

Overland, spring, 2001, "Conflict Diamonds."

Publishers Weekly, November 20, 2006, review of Behind the Moon, p. 38.


API Network,http://www.api-network.com/ (June 21, 2007), biographical information about Hsu-Ming Teo.

Asian Australian Journal,http://www.asianaustralian.org/ (February 6, 2006), Hoa Pahm, interview with Hsu-Ming Teo.

Program,http://www.theprogram.net.au/ (November 16, 2005), Mitchell Jordan, review of Behind the Moon.

Small Spiral Notebook,http://www.smallspiralnotebook.com/ (January 18, 2007), Mark Dundas Wood, review of Behind the Moon.

State Library of Western Australia Web site,http://www.liswa.wa.gov.au/ (June 21, 2007), biographical information about Hsu Ming Teo.