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Fri, 04 Sept


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Arab-Australian Authors Unite for Lebanon - Friday Session

To raise funds for the victims of the Beirut explosion, some of Australia’s most celebrated authors, poets and academics of Lebanese and Arab backgrounds will come together for two nights of online discussions about the literature of the Arab diaspora.

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Arab-Australian Authors Unite for Lebanon - Friday Session
Arab-Australian Authors Unite for Lebanon - Friday Session

Time & Location

04 Sept 2020, 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

See Zoom Link Below


About The Event

On 4 August 2020, a horrifying blast devastated Lebanon's capital, Beirut. To raise funds for the victims of the explosion, some of Australia’s most celebrated authors, poets and academics of Lebanese and Arab backgrounds will come together for two nights of online discussions about the literature of the Arab diaspora, and the vital role that Australia can play in supporting struggling communities from the Arab world.

This Friday session, moderated by Dr Randa Abdel-Fattah, features: Abbas El-Zein, Rawah Arja, Sara Saleh, Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Paula Abood, and Antoun Issa.

100% of the ticket proceeds will be donated to Impact Lebanon, an NGO that provides disaster relief as well as activism resources for the Lebanese diaspora. You can read about the work of Impact Lebanon here:

This event is an initiative of Better Read Than Dead Bookshop and Sweatshop Writers Collective.

Please note: the Friday and Saturday sessions require separate registrations, with different Zoom meeting details. The Zoom meeting details will be emailed to you after your register. 

More about the Explosion

The Beirut explosion, blamed on 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored at the port, sent a shockwave across the city that shattered windows and collapsed roofs. The death toll has now surpassed 200 victims, with over 5,000 people injured. The disaster has hit a nation already struggling with an economy on the brink of collapse, rising food prices and the global pandemic.

More about the Incredible Friday Author Lineup

Randa Abdel-Fattah is a writer and scholar who is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Sociology at Macquarie University, Sydney. Her books include Islamophobia and Everyday Multiculturalism (2018) and the forthcoming book Coming of Age in the War on Terror (New South Books 2021). Randa is also a prominent Palestinian Egyptian Muslim and anti-racism advocate, and the multi-award-winning author of 11 novels published in over 20 countries. She is co-editor of the anthology Arab, Australian, Other and is currently adapting her bestselling novel Does My Head Look Big in This? into a feature film.

Abbas El-Zein has written fiction and non-fiction, on identity, violence and environmental decline. His writing has appeared in literary magazines Heat, Meanjin and Australian Book Review, as well as the Guardian, the Age and the New York Times. His memoir Leave to Remain about growing up in civil-war Lebanon, won the NSW Premier Literary Community Relations Award. His latest book, The Secret Maker of the World, is a collection of short stories published by University of Queensland Press.

Rawah Arja is a teacher and author of her debut novel ‘The F Team’, published by Giramondo. Her writing has featured in Arab, Australian, Other, SBS Voices, Sydney Review of Books and both at the Melbourne and Sydney Writer’s Festival. She has received a fellowship from WestWords Varuna Emerging Writers’ Residential Program, is a member of the Finishing School collective of women writers, and teaches creative writing at schools and workshops.

Sara Saleh is an Arab-Australian human rights activist, community organiser, writer, and poet living on Gadigal Land (Sydney). A longtime campaigner for refugee rights and racial justice, Sara has spent the last decade working with grassroots community and international organisations in Australia and the Middle East. Sara’s poems have been published in English and Arabic in SBS Voices, Australian Poetry Journal, Meanjin, Cordite Poetry Review, Bankstown Poetry Collections and global anthologies A Blade of Grass, Making Mirrors, and Solid Air, an Australian and New Zealand spoken word anthology. She has performed nationally and internationally, from New Zealand to New York, and her writing has appeared in The Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald, SBS, and the ABC. She is co-editor of the recently released anthology, Arab-Australian-Other: Stories on Race and Identity (Picador 2019), a seminal collection of creative essays, memoirs, and poems which brings together 23 writers of Arab-Australian backgrounds. Sara also sits on the board of Australia's largest advocacy organisation GetUp! and is a proud Bankstown Poetry Slam 'Slambassador’.

Michael Mohammed Ahmad is the founding director of Sweatshop Literacy Movement. He received his doctorate from Western Sydney University in 2017. His debut novel, The Tribe (Giramondo, 2014) won the 2015 Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelists Award. His second novel, The Lebs (Hachette, 2018) won the 2019 NSW Premier’s Multicultural Literary Award and was a finalist for the 2019 Miles Franklin Award. Mohammed is the editor of After Australia (Affirm Press, 2020).

Paula Abood is a writer, community cultural worker, playwright and educator based in Sydney. She has worked with diverse refugee and immigrant communities, editing and producing publications including The Book of African Australian Stories (2006), Poetry Across Rooftops: Contemporary Writings by Afghan Women (2006), The Book of the Living: Sierra Leonean Women Tell their Stories (2006), Bread and Other Stories (2001), Waiting in Space: an Anthology of New Writing (1998), and directed for theatre The Cartographer’s Curse in 2016. In 2013 Paula received the Australia Council's Ros Bower Award for lifetime achievement in community cultural practice and has been published in anthologies and journals, most recently in Arab Australian Other: Stories on Race and Identity (2019). She is currently working on a monograph as part of an Australia Council Fellowship.

Antoun Issa is a Lebanese-Australian journalist, a contributing editor to Guardian Australia, and currently writing a book on Lebanon. He worked as a journalist in Beirut between 2011-2015, and has spent the last five years in Washington, DC, working at the Middle East Institute, where he remains a non-resident scholar, and The Atlantic.


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