Nonfiction Student Wally Suphap Wins Open City Fellowship

Jessie Shohfi
March 03, 2023

Second-year Nonfiction student Wally Suphap has been awarded this year’s Open City Fellowship from the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.

The Open City Fellowship is a unique opportunity for four emerging Asian American, Muslim, and Arab writers to publish narrative nonfiction on the vibrant East Asian, South and Southeast Asian, Arab and West Asian, and North and East African communities of the New York tri-state area. The fellowship offers a $2,500 grant, skill-building workshops, and publishing opportunities to the four fellows.

As an Open City fellow this year, Suphap says he is excited to re-immerse himself in the newly minted "Little Thailand" thoroughfare in Queens' Elmhurst, which he frequented as a college student at Columbia in the early 2000s. Spotlighting family-run restaurants and Buddhist temple festivals, his features will explore the intersections of food, spirituality, inheritance, language, and socio-cultural history in the Southeast Asian diaspora.

“This fellowship is incredibly special and personal to me,” said Suphap. “It goes to the heart of why I want to be a writer: to tell stories about the people, neighborhoods, and communities that have made me. I see the fellowship as a wonderful extension of the writing projects about my Southeast Asian heritage, projects that I’ve been given the space and support to start exploring here at Columbia, through courses such as Chair and Professor Lis Harris’s Family Matters seminar, Head of Nonfiction Wendy Walters’s reporting and research seminar, and Adjunct Associate Professor Jeremy Tiang’s literary translation workshop.”

Wally Suphap (he/they) is a writer, lawyer, and activist based in New York City's Upper West Side and born in Bangkok, Thailand. His short memoir, Thirteen Ways of Interrogating an Incident, won the 2022 Fish Short Memoir Prize (judged by Qian Julie Wang). He is currently working on a hybrid cultural memoir.