• Michael Mohammed Ahmad with fellow writer Winnie Dunn. (Supplied )Source: Supplied
"This award has brought me the peace of knowing that people are listening."
By
Sarah Malik

30 Apr 2019 - 12:02 PM  UPDATED 30 Apr 2019 - 12:03 PM

Author Michael Mohammed Ahmad who has taken away a NSW Premier's literary award for his novel The Lebs, says his win brought him "peace" and reassurance that diverse stories were being heard.

"This award has brought me the peace of knowing that people are listening," he told SBS Life.   

Ahmad took away the coveted award for The Lebs, a coming-of-age novel about a young Lebanese man growing up in Sydney's western suburbs in a racialised political climate post 9/11,

Ahmad accepted the Multicultural NSW Award, worth $20 000, at a ceremony held at the State Library in Sydney on Monday night. The event marked the 40th anniversary of the NSW Premier's Literary Awards.

Ahmad said the award represented a win for telling complex stories of the Arab Australian Muslim experience.  

"Over the past 20 years, representations of Arab Australian Muslims have been coloured by stories of drug dealing, drive by shootings, sexual assault and terrorist conspiracies," he said.

"I wrote The Lebs to reclaim the stories that have been spoken about me and to offer an alternative and more complex narrative."

Ahmad is the director of Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement, based in Western Sydney University.

Sweatshop has worked in partnership with SBS Life, to publish the work of young writers of colour.

'I'm not interested in reassuring bigots': Michael Mohammed Ahmad on Q&A
"It makes no difference what kind of Muslim you are - good Muslim, bad Muslim, ignorant Muslim, educated Muslim, moderate Muslim, radical Muslim - (you are) still Muslim. At this point I'm not interested anymore in reassuring bigots not to be afraid of me."