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 is a writer and general practitioner from Melbourne. She is the author of Australia Day, which won the 2018 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Fiction, and Room for a Stranger, which was longlisted for the 2020 Miles Franklin Award. Her non-fiction has been published in the Guardian, the Age, The Weekend Australian and SBS Online. She is The Saturday Paper's health columnist.
Omar Sakr is the author of These Wild Houses (Cordite, 2017) and The Lost Arabs (UQP, 2019), which won the 2020 Prime Minister's Literary Award for Poetry. His poems have been widely published and anthologised in places such as the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series, Border Lines: Poems of Migration (Vintage Knopf, 2020), the Anthology of Australian Prose Poetry (MUP, 2020), Best Australian Poems (Black Inc, 2016) and Contemporary Australian Poetry (Puncher & Wattmann, 2016). Born and raised on Dharug country to Lebanese and Turkish Muslim migrants, he lives there still. His debut novel, Son of Sin, is forthcoming with Affirm Press.
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.