NSW Premier’s Literary Award winner Michael Mohammed Ahmad didn’t grow up in the thick of a traditional Muslim community – he didn’t know what Ramadan was and didn’t connect with his faith until he moved to Lakemba, with its high Muslim population.
His shifting perspective is part of what makes his award-winning novel The Lebs – and its recognition – so important.
“If you spoke to most Arab Australian and Muslim Australian writers in this country, we collectively agree there’s a desire to offer complex, positive, and sophisticated portrayals of who we are, to counteract the negative stereotypes propagated in the Australian media,” says Ahmad.
“Winning this award, it gives us hope that people are listening.”
Here Ahmad speaks to ABC’s Mariam Chehab about his book, his connection to his faith and how it inspires his work at Sweatshop, a movement to empower Western Sydney’s multicultural communities.