Iconoclastic and empowered: the new wave of Middle Eastern Australian women writers

MENA women writers are gaining momentum in major literary prizes and across the nation’s bookstores, but is this movement iconoclastic?

Women of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA)* origin have not historically been visible in Australia’s literary industry. Whether this has been primarily due to systemic biases or lack of access opportunities, it is finally starting to change, as a new wave of MENA women are winning and shortlisting for major literary prizes and becoming bestsellers across the nation’s bookstores.

As these women and their extraordinary stories come into focus, ArtsHub considers: in what way is this movement iconoclastic, pushing against the multiple hegemonies of patriarchy and “white” Australian prejudice?

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Leila Lois is a dancer and writer of Kurdish and Celtic heritage. Her poetry, essays and reviews have been published in Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada by Southerly Journal, LA Review of Books, Honey Literary Journal, Right Now, Delving Into Dance and more.