Over the past two decades, media representations of Arab–Australians have been dominated by news headlines about gangs, drugs, sexual assaults and terrorist conspiracies. In this urgent public dialogue, four of Australia’s most exciting Arab–Australian authors, Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Omar Sakr, Sarah Ayoub and Randa Abdel-Fattah, discuss the role that literature plays in reshaping our understanding of contemporary Middle Eastern identity.

Presented with Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement.

Michael Mohammed Ahmad (Australian)

Michael Mohammed Ahmad

Dr Michael Mohammed Ahmad is the founder and director of Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement. His debut novel The Tribe received the 2015 Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelists of the Year Award. He latest novel is The Lebs.

Omar Sakr (Australian)

Omar Sakr

Omar Sakr is an Arab Australian poet from Western Sydney. His first book These Wild Houses was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor prize and the Judith Wright Calanthe award. His new collection is The Lost Arabs. Omar's poetry has been published in English, Arabic, and Spanish, in numerous publications including Overland, Griffith Review, Meanjin, Circulo de Poesia, The New Arab, the Asian American Writers Workshop, Wildness, and Tinderbox, among many others.

Sarah Ayoub (Australian)

Sarah Ayoub

Sarah Ayoub is a freelance journalist and author. Her writing has appeared in publications such as The Guardian, The Sun-Herald, ELLE, SBS, Marie-Claire, and the Sunday Telegraph. Sarah teaches journalism at The University of Notre Dame in Sydney, where she is currently researching the representations of culturally diverse female teens in Australian Young Adult literature. She is the author of Hate is Such a Strong Word and The Yearbook Committee and is passionate about empowering young people to see the value in their own personal stories.

Randa Abdel-Fattah (Australian)

Randa Abdel-Fattah

Randa Abdel-Fattah is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Macquarie University where she is researching the generational impact of the war on terror on Muslim and non-Muslim youth born into a post 9/11 world. She is a prominent Australian Palestinian advocate and a multi-award winning author of 11 books whose young adult and children’s books are published in more than 16 countries. Randa was recently nominated for Sweden's Astrid Lindgren Award, the world's biggest children's literature award. Her novels have been adapted to the stage in America and Australia and her debut novel Does My Head Look Big In This? is currently in development as a feature film.