Western Sydney authors shortlisted for NSW Premier’s Literary Awards

Writer, teacher and youth mentor Rawah Arja

Several literary talents fostered by Western Sydney University are among those shortlisted for this year’s prestigious NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

The authors recognised – Rawah Arja, Vivian Pham, Miro Bilbrough, Mariana Dimopulos and Norman Erikson Pasaribu – are students, alumni of the Writing and Society Research Centre, or authors published by the University-based Giramondo Publishing. The youngest, Vivian Pham, is completing a degree in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts.

Western Sydney writer, teacher and youth mentor Rawah Arja was shortlisted for the Multicultural NSW Award and the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature for her debut novel, The F Team (Giramondo).

“Although I didn’t write this book for the accolades, I feel humbled that it has been acknowledged alongside some of the best Australian stories,” said Rawah.

“I wrote this book for minorities like myself who were never represented in literature and felt our lives were only important if people took a chance on us.”

Set in Punchbowl, The F Team follows student Tariq Nader as he navigates a school soccer competition, his friendships, and his extended Lebanese family.

“This award represents what can happen when we believe in ourselves — our stories deserve to be celebrated.”

Professor Ivor Indyk, founding editor and publisher of Giramondo, and Whitlam Chair in the Writing and Society Research Centre, commended Rawah – a Western Sydney University graduate who is currently a Writer-in-Residence in the Writing and Society Research Centre.

“I am really pleased to have published The F Team, not only because of its setting in Western Sydney, but because Rawah’s writing is alive, funny, affectionate, and at the same time unafraid to tackle social issues head-on.”

Associate Professor Matt McGuire, acting Dean of the School of Humanities and Communication Arts, offered his congratulations to all of the finalists.

“We are delighted to see a range of exceptional authors who have benefitted from the University’s innovative writing programs and initiatives shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards,” said Associate Professor McGuire.

“This continues an extraordinary record of recognition for Giramondo authors and Western Sydney University students and graduates.”

Those shortlisted include:

  • Rawah Arja, The F Team (Giramondo), Multicultural NSW Award, Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature
  • Vivian Pham, The Coconut Children (Penguin Random House Australia), Multicultural NSW Award
  • Miro Bilbrough, In the Time of the Manaroans (Victoria University Press), Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction
  • Mariana Dimopulos, trans. Alice Whitmore, Immanence (Giramondo), NSW Premier’s Translation Prize
  • Norman Erikson Pasaribu, trans. Tiffany Tsao, Sergius Seeks Bacchus (Giramondo), NSW Premier’s Translation Prize

The annual NSW Premier’s Literary Awards honour distinguished achievement by Australian writers who contribute to Australia’s artistic reputation and draw international attention to the nation’s best writers and the cultural environment that nurtures them. The winners will be announced on 27 April as part of the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

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