Something new - Booktober 2023

Something new

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Every year WestWords offers three fellowships to give emerging Western Sydney writers an opportunity to develop a new work on the brink of publication. The fellowships, which are supported by the Cultural Fund - Copyright Agency, along with our residencies at Varuna: The National Writers House, offer support and mentorship, and many of these writers have seen their work achieve mainstream publication. Here is just a selection of the writers and the work they created whilst on the fellowship.

“Providing fellowships for western Sydney writers is an integral part of making sure that we hear, honour and support the diverse and dynamic stories of the region.”
Felicity Castagna: author The Incredible Here and Now, winner of the 2015 Prime Minister’s Award – Young Adult.  

Peter Polites: Down the Hume

“A staccato rat-a-tat novel that throws you into the seared concrete and oppressive heat of Western Sydney, and won't let you go. Down the Hume is a worthy successor to Christos Tsiolkas' Loaded, and a compelling portrait of a part of Sydney that is often disregarded by the well off and well to do, who cluster around the city's glittering harbour.”: Ilse Scheepers

Peter went on to win the 2020 NSW Premier's Literary Awards - Multicultural NSW Award for his follow up novel The Pillars:

Chloe Higgins The Girls

“A tender and heartfelt book, exploring the intricacies and long aftermath of trauma and grief with great frankness and directness”: Fiona Wright

Winner: Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2020 People's Choice Winner

Shortlisted: Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2020 THE VICTORIAN PREMIER'S LITERARY AWARD FOR NON-FICTION 2020


Maryam Azam — The Hijab Files

Azam’s debut collection identifies and describes a flexibility and porousness in objects often thought of as stable and rigid. Cloth, faith, identity, reality become elastic. It conceives of worldly life as capable of sustaining simultaneity of perception, and as movement between piercing moments of profundity and mundanity. -Anupama Pilbrow

Shortlisted, Anne Elder Award for Poetry, 2018

Shortlisted, Mary Gilmore Award

Rawah Arja The F Team – just published!

'In her debut YA novel, Rawah Arja expertly expresses the difficulty of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood while navigating family, friendship, love and self-worth. Not just full of heart and the importance of community, Arja's novel is also honest...The F Team is an introspective and thought-provoking coming-of-age read.'

Books + Publishing

Majok Tulba Beneath the Darkening Sky

‘Majok Tulba's novel is a red-raw story of an African child soldier. The violence is brutal and unrelenting, the writing unembellished and unsettling… Beneath the Darkening Sky makes for uncomfortable reading and is a book that will prick the conscience of western readers in their soft armchairs.'

- Irish Times

FAW Award


SMH Young Novelist


Dylan Thomas Prize (UK)


NSW Premier's Literary Awards


When Elephants Fight by Majok Tulba

Poised part way between heaven and hell, When Elephants Fight draws a horrifying picture of what humanity can do to itself, but Juba’s is a story of transcendence and resilience, even exultation. —Penguin Books

Vanessa Berry Mirror Sydney

‘Conjuring up a shadow city of forgotten fantasies and dreams, Mirror Sydney offers similar pleasures to David Ulin’s walker’s Los Angeles or Iain Sinclair’s dispatches from a rapidly changing London. I found my heart jumping with joy as it brought parts of my lost city back to life.’ Delia Falconer

Winner, Mascara Avant-garde Award for Non-Fiction 2018

Longlisted, Waverly NIB Awards 2018

Longlisted, ABIA Small Publisher’s Adult Book of the Year 2018