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May 11, 2019


#NSW Premier’s Award Winner 2019 The Lebs

by NancyElin

  • Author: Michael Mohammed Ahmad
  • Title: The Lebs
  • Published: 2018
  • Publisher: Hachette Australia
  • Trivia: 2019 NSW Premier’s Literary Award WINNER Multicultural  Writing
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • @HachetteAus


  1. M.M. Ahmad, second generation Arab-Australian Muslim
  2. whose family was illiterate.
  3. He has worked very hard to become a creative writer:
  4. four years completing an arts degree
  5. two years completing my honors degree
  6. another four years completing my PhD.
  7. M.M. Ahmad deserves 5 stars!
  8. Next generation of new Australian writers….



  1. Gritty, raw look at
  2. the world that M. M. Ahmad knows so well.
  3. His grandparents came to Australia from Lebanon in 1970
  4. …with no money and no education.
  5. Ahmad has worked hard to master creative writing
  6. …and his 2nd novel is the result.
  7. It is a compelling achievement.
  8. The language is filled with expletives
  9. …but I’ve learned to read around that aspect of the book!
  10. Main character is Bani…a teenager dealing with
  11. many of the usual issues teenage boys face —
  12. gender, sexuality, race, and class….
  13. whilst also trying to obtain an education.
  14. Bani is a Leb second generation Arab-Australian Muslim
  15. growing up in Western Sydney between the
  16. years 1998 and 2005
  17. …what he is describing feels like  a war zone!


Last thoughts:

  1. I saw M. M. Ahmad accept the NSW Lit Award 2019
  2. for Multicultural Writing via an internet link
  3. with the ceremonies on April 29th.
  4. I was not going to read this book but felt I should
  5. investigate another side of Australia  other than bush stories.
  6. M. M. Ahmad has impressed met with his novel.
  7. Gripping  look at  the Arab-Australian Muslim male identity.
  8. It is told from the perspective of Bani Adam
  9. a fictional version of the author.
  10. This book is buoyant, intelligent
  11. …and very satisfying as it
  12. …delivers a solid dose of uncomfortable truth.
  13. #MustRead
Read more from Uncategorized
9 Comments Post a comment
  1. May 23 2019

    Oh Nancy, I thought this was a horrible book. I didn’t finish it. All that filthy language and crudity, I don’t need to be confronted like that to feel empathy for migrants and refugees, and I think it will win no friends for his cause for those who don’t care about them.

    • May 23 2019

      I agree, this was not a pleasant book to read…but all books are not a delight.
      The language is filled with expletives…but I’ve learned to read around that aspect of the book!
      There is always a the rhetorical triangle –> the speaker, the message, the audience.
      I may not be the target audience…but the author does reveal a world that is so foreign that it created a shock effect. I give every book a chance and was very curious why this book won the award…so I had to read it! Thanks so much for your comments.

      • May 23 2019

        I’ve read a couple of books like this, where they force the reader to confront a different culture and yes, use torrents of the kind of language that is really unpleasant. Last year, for example, I read Dancing Home by Paul Collis, an Indigenous man who has worked with Indigenous men in custody. The story features drug-addicted violent men, and I gave up on it at first because it was so toxic. However, I returned to it, and was rewarded by seeing that the central character had good qualities as well as behaviours that I find utterly repellent.
        OTOH I also read, disliked but persisted with How It Feels by Brendan Colwell and found it had no redeeming features. It’s about sexist, violent men who use and abuse women and I thought it was a very ugly book indeed.
        I recognised that same kind of ugliness in The Lebs. I abandoned it after the requisite 50 pages which I feel is a fair go for any book, because I simply didn’t want to read any more of it.
        Of course, yes, we all read books differently, and value them in different ways, but The Lebs seemed to be repellent for the sake of it, like those awful teenagers who walk through shopping centres abusing everyone with filthy language, just for the attention-getting shock value. And because I have Lebanese friends who are thoughtful, hard-working, generous and wise, and are wonderful company, I feel this representation of their culture is grossly unfair, precisely because for many people The Lebs will be their first and perhaps only exposure to a book featuring Lebanese Australians and will get completely the wrong impression of them!
        Anyway, it is me, not you, who is out of step with critical opinion so I am glad that you’ve reviewed it, thanks! 🙂

      • May 23 2019

        I always appreciate your thoughts on books…thank you so much for taking the time to respond in length. Love book conversations…. 🙂 I will look at the books you mentioned in your commet.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. #NSW Premier’s Award 2019 shortlist – read-a-thon! | NancyElin
  2. #Australian Literary Leftovers | NancyElin
  3. Miles Franklin Award 2019 Longlist | Whispering Gums
  4. 2019 Miles Franklin Longlist | ANZ LitLovers LitBlog
  5. Miles Franklin Award 2019 shortlist | Whispering Gums

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