Michael Vatikiotis has worked as a writer and journalist in Southeast Asia for the past twenty-two years, first as a student living in Thailand, then as a journalist in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. He now lives in Singapore, where he is Regional director of the Geneva-based Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue and a visiting fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
His first novel, "THE SPICE GARDEN" (2004) is set in Indonesia’s fabled spice islands and tells the story about a small island community hit by the terror of religious violence. The book explores wider issues of religious tolerance and prejudice that afflict today’s world and also reveals some of the tragic flaws in Indonesian society and political culture. Time Magazine said that Vatikiotis "has constructed an engrossing narrative of mass hysteria and mob violence…. The Spice Garden should be notable, if for no other reason, as the first serious novel in English about the sectarian violence in Indonesia after the fall of Suharto….and makes a valuable contribution to the literature of the archipelago."
In his stories and his reports, Vatikiotis dwells on social and political change, charting the region’s awkward embrace of modernity and democracy. "Debatable Land" , a collection of short stories published in 2001, was widely reviewed and praised in Asia. In his writing, the Straits Times of Singapore noted: "The refreshing absence of a didactic, hectoring, morally superior tone that one comes to expect from Westerners when they write about the East. Instead, one detects gentler tones—sympathy, empathy and restraint, with a patina of melancholy." Time Magazine said of his short stories that, like the region, they are "diverse, offering glimpses into the lives of a wide array of everyday characters,"
His stories have also appeared in the Hong Kong published Dim Sum literary magazine and Silverfish out of Kuala Lumpur.
Michael Vatikiotis was born in the U.S. of Greek and Italian parents with a Middle Eastern background. He was educated at London and Oxford University, with short stints at Chiang Mai University in Thailand and the American University of Cairo. As a correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review, he was posted in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok as well as Hong Kong.