The Wheeler Centre
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Double Booked Club: Melanie Cheng and Omar Sakr
Omar Sakr and Melanie Cheng are two very different voices with very different styles, but over the past few years both have blasted welcome fresh air into the Australian literary scene.
Melanie Cheng is a GP as well as a writer and her debut short-story collection, Australia Day, won the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction. Her new book, Room for a Stranger, is a novel set in Melbourne, about the unlikely friendship between an older woman and a young student from Hong Kong.
Omar Sakr's second book of poetry, The Lost Arabs, has been described as a 'seething, urgent collection' about sexuality, divinity and redemption. His debut collection, These Wild Houses, was critically acclaimed and shortlisted for several awards including the Kenneth Slessor Prize.
Hosted by Khalid Warsame, the pair discuss their work at a lunchtime session.
Melanie Cheng’s debut book, the short-story collection Australia Day, won the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction and, two years earlier, the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. She was born in Adelaide and grew up in Hong Kong. She now lives in Melbourne, where she writes when she’s not working as a general practitioner. Room for a Stranger is her first novel.
Omar Sakr is an Arab Australian poet, born of Lebanese and Turkish Muslim migrants. His debut collection, These Wild Houses (Cordite, 2017) was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize. His latest collection, The Lost Arabs (UQP, 2019), has been shortlisted for the Judith Wright Calanthe Award, the NSW Premier's Multicultural Literary Award, the John Bray Poetry Award, and the Colin Roderick Award. In 2019 he received the Edward Stanley Award for Poetry, and in 2020 the Woollahra Digital Literary Award for Poetry. A widely published essayist, Omar lives in Sydney, where he is currently working on his debut novel.
Khalid Warsame is a writer, photographer, and arts producer who lives in Melbourne. His essays and fiction have appeared in the Lifted Brow, Overland, the Big Issue, Cordite Poetry Review, and LitHub. He has previously edited fiction for the Lifted Brow, worked as a creative producer at the Footscray Community Arts Centre and Co-Directed the National Young Writers Festival. He is currently working on his first novel.