Award-winning poet Omar Sakr makes his stunning prose debut with Son of Sin, an extraordinary novel based on his experiences growing up in Western Sydney.
An astutely observed commentary on race, family, shame and otherness, this unforgettable debut is a story that every Australian should read and booksellers can passionately hand-sell as a fundamentally important contribution to Australian literature.
Son of Sin is a fierce and fantastic force that illuminates the bonds that bind families together, as well as what can break them. It follows Jamal Smith, a young queer Muslim man trying to connect with his estranged family in Western Sydney, and who is wholly unprepared for the story that emerges about what drove them apart.
Omar won the 2020 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Poetry for The Lost Arabs (UQP, 2019) and has received a NSW Arts grant to present a program of community events in Western Sydney, including establishing a book club for the local community.
‘I’m very excited about this opportunity,’ Sakr said. ‘I want to use my platform not only to benefit other writers but also to nurture readers, to make sure our voices are being heard by the people who need to hear it. There’s nothing in our literary canon yet about queer Arab Muslims coming of age in Western Sydney.’
An estranged father. An abused and abusive mother. An army of relatives. A tapestry of violence, woven across generations and geographies, from Turkey to Lebanon to Western Sydney. This is the legacy left to Jamal Smith, a young queer Muslim trying to escape a past in which memory and rumour trace ugly shapes in the dark. When every thread in life constricts instead of connects, how do you find a way to breathe? Torn between faith and fear, gossip and gospel, family and friendship, Jamal must find and test the limits of love. Read an extract.
In this extraordinary work, Omar Sakr deftly weaves a multifaceted tale brimming with angels and djinn, racist kangaroos and adoring bats, examining with a poet’s eye the destructive impetus of repressed desire and the complexities that make us human.
Omar Sakr is the author of two acclaimed poetry collections, These Wild Houses (Cordite Books) and The Lost Arabs (UQP). The Lost Arabs won the 2020 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry and was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Award, the John Bray Poetry Award, the Judith Wright Calanthe Award and the Colin Roderick Award. Omar is a widely published essayist and editor whose work has been translated into Arabic and Spanish. Born to Lebanese and Turkish Muslim migrants in Western Sydney, he lives there still. Son of Sin is his first novel.
‘I inhaled this novel, the story and the world and the language are exhilarating.’
—Christos Tsiolkas, author and winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction 2020
‘Poetry in prose, this is a wondrous, beautiful novel.’
—Sisonke Msimang, author of Always Another Country
‘Fierce, wild, untameable. Reading Son of Sin made me feel like I was walking on air. It could be the hottest literary property we’ve ever been responsible for.’
—Martin Hughes, Publishing Director (see Martin talk about Son of Sin more here)
‘One of the most exciting books I’ve read in years, for work or otherwise. I was stunned by how Omar could use just a few words to draw the beauty out of every moment, no matter how seemingly mundane.’
—Ruby Ashby Orr, Senior Editor
‘Son of Sin is, to put it simply, a special book from a special writer. I’d encourage every Australian to read this.’
—Keiran Rogers, Sales and Marketing Director
‘A haunting coming of age novel that pulses with yearning, desire and a daring thread of hope.’
—Kelly Doust, Commercial Publisher
‘This vivid, electrifying novel is peppered with exquisitely written passages that made me to stop in my tracks just to read them over again.’
—Laura McNicol Smith, Publicity Manager
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