Last night we had the launch of Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia at the Wheeler Centre. There were 300 people in the audience and we sold 60 books. How amazing! Here are some photos of the night.
Our three contributors Tasneem Chopra, Irfan Yusuf and Alyena Mohummadally who spoke so eloquently and with great pathos and humour about their experiences of growing up Muslim.
The two editors me and Demet Divaroren getting our poses on.
Look, I'm famous!!! I'm on the big screen!
Now I know I've made it-there is a sketch of me by my friend Jodi Wiley. What an amazing momento!
I'm still buzzing from it all. It's been an amazing ride. Thank you to Demet Divaroren, Tasneem Chopra, and Jodi Wiley for the photos. There is going to be footage of our presentation in a month's time. Excited and kind of scared about seeing it, but anyway.
I've also decided to giveaway two copies of my novel The Good Daughter to celebrate. This will be the first in a series of giveaways of all my books. So if you'd like to enter please click below.
I am having so much fun Googling at the moment. Reviews for the anthology are hitting the internet and I feel so overwhelmed when I read them. I just flicked over to Goodreads and found these two reviews for Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia. Here is what Ruby had to say:
"I finished this book with tears in my eyes. What an amazing insight it was for me, a white bread, non-Muslim woman living comfortably and without conflict in a culture that NEVER questions me, ostracises me, simplifies my beliefs, vilifies me, tokenises me... How I have taken that for granted.
I also realised (with some discomfort) how many stereotypes I had in my own mind about Islam and Muslims. I was very interested to read, for example, that Muslim communities have existed in Australia since the 1800s. For some reason, I assumed that Islam in Australia was a relatively modern phenomenon.
The coming of age stories made me realise what a tricky business it is for young Muslims to be caught between two cultures, often never really fitting neatly into either. It would be a great high school book to include in an English curriculum, to get young people talking about these sorts of issues."
And then this from Kelsey:
"Such a great book, and destined for high school curriculum I'm sure. Suitable for any YA readers.
Every featured story is interesting; some resonate more than others, but all contributors have something worthwhile to say. All experienced downright meanness from other people growing up merely because of ethnic/religious difference, which is so sad and so unnecessary. While white people were not the only ones guilty of this, all contributors experienced racism on various levels from white people, which is shameful. Some literally never found a white friend, even when they tried. Disgusting. But none let this experience define them, and none let it abate their affections and loyalties to their adopted country. Not all of the writers are even still Muslim and yet they suffer discrimination for being Muslim anyway. My own personal feelings is that bogan Australian culture could learn a lot from people who manage to enjoy themselves ~without alcohol and ~without oversexualisation of everything/everyone, but it's a culture firmly convinced it knows everything already and is always right, so I'm thinking that will never happen. It's a shame.
Many of the contributors are professional writers, and I've added their listed works to my ever-growing TBR list."
My co-editor Demet and I spent two years shaping this anthology from a four page proposal to an actual book. Every day that we worked on it we spoke about what we hoped it would achieve. The way we hoped that the stories within would change the world and people's perception of Muslims in Australia. And to read these reviews just chocked me up because they almost mean more than the professional reviews because they are from real people who read the book and were changed by it. Feeling so humbled right now.
But we've also achieved some amazing milestones with a review in The Age "Life and Style" section and The Sunday Age M section.
There has also been a review on ReadPlus and WikiLeaks Party.
"This group of stories will be an eye opener to the readers, at its basis showing that growing up, whoever you are and wherever you come from the issues are the same, friends, family, sex, school, what to do with the rest of your life.
For a class this would be an enthralling set of stories to read, pointing out that young adult's worries and concerns have little to do with the stereotypes we see in the media." Fran Knight, ReadPlus. Full review here.
"This book is a welcome addition to the field of advocacy in this country. It raises a host of issues around the integration of cultures and religions. For those of us who are involved in the advocacy field this book is a reminder of some of the important issues that our new and emerging communities from this faith group need to deal with in achieving the integration that we all desire. For those from the Muslim community, this is a reminder that they are not alone and that there are these high achievers who have maintained their own cultural values and yet achieved great levels of success in the wider Australian community." Suresh Rajan, WikiLeaks Party. Full review here.
So the anthology is officially launched and it's been getting some good traction with publicity.
It was featured on the Today show with contributor Sabrina Houssami. Sabrina also wrote a piece for the Sydney Morning Herald's Style magazine.
Contributor Alyena Mohummadally was on ABC Breakfast TV, view interview below. She also had radio interviews on Jon Faine here and on ABC Drawing Room hosted by Waleed Aly and talking with Alice Pung here, and Joy radio station here.
There were The Age extracts with Bianca Elmir, Randa Abdel-Fattah, and Irfan Yusuf.
Bianca Elmir was also on radio with Richard Fidler here.
There are two launches. A Melbourne Launch at the Wheeler Centre on Monday 24 February 2014, 6:15PM - 7:45PM, and you can book free tickets here. And a Sydney launch at Abbeys Bookshop Thursday 13 February 2014 at 6 pm, info here.
And I'm very excited to have received advanced copies of my novel for children Amir: Friend on Loan.
I also wrote the teaching notes for Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia and they can be downloaded from the Allen and Unwin website here.
What an awesome start to the year!!!
Amra Pajalić is an award-winning author, an editor and teacher who draws on her Bosnian cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like her, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture. She writes memoir, young adult and romance under the pen name Mae Archer.
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