Books and Ideas at Montalto
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Michael Mohammed Ahmad
Michael Mohammed Ahmad is a writer whose novels explore Australia’s smouldering tribalism – found as much within its communities as between them – eschewing clichés and easy, feel-good conclusions.
His first novel, The Tribe, introduced readers to the complex family life of protagonist Bani Adam, a young boy from a religious Lebanese Muslim family in western Sydney. In The Lebs, Bani is a teenager grappling with a different set of conflicts – about superiority, sexuality, violence and faith – played out against the backdrop of high school and graduation.
Ahmad’s writing stings and sparks; it’s tense, insistent and unsettling, deploying a hungry, confrontational vernacular. Bani’s narration doesn’t present a worthy, heartwarming model of Lebanese Australian-ness. Instead, we’re offered a provocative, complex and sometimes brutal portrait – take or leave it.
In conversation with host Elizabeth McCarthy, Michael Mohammed Ahmad discusses multicultural identities, coming of age and the disorienting power of language.
Books and Ideas at Montalto series sound design and music: Jon Tjhia.