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Asian Australian Writers Festival

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Event description


The Asian Australian Writers Festival brings together Asian-Australian writers, critics, and editors to have the kinds of conversations with each other that we often can't in other spaces. What inspires us? What are we currently obsessed with? How do we write? How do we play with language? What conversational corners do we feel backed into, and how do we get out of them? What do we actually want to talk about? Join us to find out!

Featuring conversations between:

  • Jessica Au & Jessica Zhan Mei Yu
  • Michelle Cahill & Melanie Cheng
  • Grace Yee & Nadia Niaz
  • Paige Clark & Jamie Marina Lau
  • Adalya Nash Hussein, Leah Jing McIntosh & Cher Tan

Hosted by the Creative Writing Program at the University of Melbourne.

Lunch as well as morning and afternoon tea will be provided. Please enter dietary requirements at checkout and we will do our best to accommodate you.

Can't make it in person? Register here to join us online via Zoom.

Poster artwork by Lily Nie @paperlily

Event Schedule




9.45 am

Acknowledgement of Country 

Elizabeth MacFarlane & Nadia Niaz

9:47 am

Welcome and Introduction 

Jessica Yu & Nadia Niaz


Conversation 1: Jessica Zhan Mei Yu and Jessica Au 

Maria Tumarkin


Morning tea 


Conversation 2: Paige Clark and Jamie Marina Lau 

Elizabeth MacFarlane




Conversation 3: Nadia Niaz and Grace Yee 

Andy Jackson


Conversation 4: Melanie Cheng and Michelle Cahill 

Nadia Niaz


Afternoon Tea 


Conversation 5: Adalya Nash Hussein, Leah Jing Mcintosh, Cher Tan  

Nadia Niaz


Thanks and Farewell 

Elizabeth MacFarlane & Jessica Yu 

Presenter Bios

Jessica Au has worked as a writer, editor and bookseller. Her novel Cold Enough for Snow won the inaugural Novel Prize and was published by Giramondo, New Directions and Fitzcarraldo Editions, with translations in nineteen languages. It won the Victorian Prize for Literature and the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award, the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and the Queensland Literary Awards.

Michelle Cahill (she/they) is a novelist and poet of Indian heritage. She is the Hedberg Writer-in-Residence at the University of Tasmania. Her short story collection, Letter to Pessoa (Giramondo) was awarded the NSW Premier's Literary Award for New Writing. Daisy & Woolf longlisted in the ALS Gold Medal and the Voss Literary Prize. She has been shortlisted in the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Prize, the ABR Peter Porter Poetry Prize. A new poetry collection is forthcoming with Cordite. Cahill is the artistic director of Mascara, and co-editor of Resilience.

Melanie Cheng is a writer based in Naarm/Melbourne. Her short story collection, Australia Day, won the 2016 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript and went on to win the 2018 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for fiction. Her novel, Room for a Stranger was longlisted for the 2020 Miles Franklin Award and shortlisted for the 2020 NSW Premier's multicultural award. Her non-fiction has appeared in The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, The Age and The Weekend Australian, among others. Her novel, The Burrow, will be published with Text in 2024.

Paige Clark is a writer, researcher and teacher. Her first book of fiction, She Is Haunted, was shortlisted for the Readings Prize, longlisted for the Stella Prize and highly commended for the Barbara Jefferis Award.

Adalya Nash Hussein is a writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Meanjin, Overland, Voiceworks, The Lifted Brow, Ibis House, Going Down Swinging and others. It has also been shortlisted for the KYD Creative Non-Fiction Essay Prize and the Scribe Nonfiction Prize. She has been a CA-SRB Emerging Critic, an Emerging Writers’ Festival Melbourne Recital Centre Writer in Residence, and Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellow. She has edited at Voiceworks, Liminal and The Lifted Brow, and currently sits as Managing Editor of Australian Poetry and The Victorian Writer.

Jamie Marina Lau is a writer, musician and the author of Pink Mountain on Locust Island and Gunk Baby. She was awarded the Melbourne Prize for Literature's Readings Residency Award and Sydney Morning Herald's Best Young Australian Novelist. In 2022 Lau was selected to be a Fall resident and the Australian representative at the Iowa International Writers Program.

Leah Jing McIntosh is a researcher, critic, and the founding editor of Liminal.

Nadia Niaz is the author of The Djinn Hunters (2023, Rabbit Press) and the founder and editor of the Australian Multilingual Writing Project. Her academic and creative work explores multilingual creative expression, the practicalities and politics of translation, and the idea of ‘belonging’ in multiple contexts. She has been a Wheeler Centre Fellow and a member of the West Writers Group, has worked collaboratively with visual artists to produce original work, and has been a commissioned poet for the School of Anatomy’s Body Donation Program at the University of Melbourne. Nadia teaches creative writing at the University of Melbourne and is committed to creating opportunities for emerging writers in Australia. When she’s not working with words, she’s usually lifting heavy things or dancing.

Cher Tan is an essayist and critic. She is an editor at Liminal and the reviews editor at Meanjin. Her debut essay collection, Peripathetic: Notes on (Un)belonging, is forthcoming with NewSouth in May 2024.

Grace Yee is the author of Chinese Fish (Giramondo Publishing, 2023). She has taught in the Writing and Literature Program at Deakin University, and in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Melbourne, where she completed a PhD on settler Chinese women's storytelling in Aotearoa New Zealand.  Her poetry has been widely published and anthologised across Australia and internationally, and has been awarded the Patricia Hackett Prize, the Peter Steele Poetry Award and grants from Creative Victoria and the Australia Council for the Arts. Grace was a Creative Fellow at the State Library Victoria (2019-21), where she researched early settler Chinese Australian histories for a collection, Light Traps: A History, forthcoming with Cordite Books in 2024

Jessica Zhan Mei Yu is a writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. She is a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Melbourne. In 2021, she was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Literature Award in the Unpublished Manuscript category. Her debut novel, But the Girl was published by Jonathan Cape (UK) and Penguin Random House (Australia) this year and will be published with Unnamed Press in the US next March. Her essay collection, All the Stain is Tender is set to follow.

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Refund policy

The event is free, hence no refunds apply.