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.
Michael Mohammed Ahmad is an Arab-Australian writer, editor, teacher and community arts worker. He is the founder and director of Sweatshop, a literacy movement in Western Sydney devoted to empowering culturally and linguistically diverse artists through creative writing.
Mohammed's essays and short stories have appeared in the Sydney Review of Books, the Guardian, Heat, Seizure, the Lifted Brow, the Australian and Coming of Age: Australian Muslim Stories. His debut novel, The Tribe, received a 2015 Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelists of the Year Award. Mohammed received his Doctorate of Creative Arts at Western Sydney University in 2017.
Elizabeth McCarthy is a Melbourne-based radio producer and presenter who currently produces the Breakfast show at Australia’s biggest independent broadcaster, 3RRRFM. Her book reviews can be heard on Breakfast. From 2013–2017, she anchored Triple R’s flagship books and writing show, Multi-Storied.