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Kassab to be inaugural Parramatta Laureate

Author Yumna Kassab has been selected as the inaugural Parramatta Laureate in Literature by the Sydney Review of Books (SRB) in partnership with the City of Parramatta and the Writing and Society Research Centre (WSRC) at Western Sydney University.

As the Laureate, Kassab will receive a $50,000 stipend to work on a project she described as a ‘dictionary of Parramatta’, grounded in the diverse communities and histories of the city. She will also organise several writing workshops with local participants, and advocate publicly for writing cultures.

SRB defines the Laureate as ‘a writer who is making an outstanding contribution to literature, and who will help animate a vision for the future of Parramatta as it cements its position as the true heart of global Sydney’.

Kassab is a Parramatta-based novelist and short fiction writer, as well as a high school teacher. Her most recent novel, The Lovers (Ultimo), was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction, and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction. She also wrote The House of Youssef (Giramondo) and Australiana (Ultimo). Her forthcoming book, Politica (Ultimo), is due to be released in January.

Said Kassab: ‘It is a delight to be chosen as the Parramatta Laureate, and I can’t wait to highlight what I love about the place I call home. I approach this as a writer with a dedication to emphasising the stellar writers already here. It is a golden generation, and my aim is to draw a circle around them so they can be celebrated properly.’

WSRC director and associate professor Kate Fagan, who is chair of the selection panel, said Kassab ‘will be an outstanding Laureate for the Parramatta region’. ‘She has a profound understanding of storytelling and its rich traditions across our city, and an ability to reach people in the most heartfelt and direct way.’

SRB editor James Jiang said: ‘She brings to the role exceptional talent, and the cosmopolitan sensibility and civic-mindedness that are hallmarks of the city’s culture and ambitions. It’s hard to think of a project better suited to the aims of the Laureateship.’

Pictured: Yumna Kassab, credit Tiger Webb.


Category: Local news