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Australia Day

Australia Day

Melanie Cheng

  • awardWinner, Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Fiction, 2018
  • awardLonglisted, Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction, 2018
  • awardLonglisted, ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year, 2018
  • awardLonglisted, ABIA Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year, 2018
  • awardLonglisted, Dobbie Literary Award for a first time published author, 2018
  • awardShortlisted, Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction, 2017
  • awardWinner, Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, 2016
  • Australia Day is a collection of stories by debut author Melanie Cheng. The people she writes about are young, old, rich, poor, married, widowed, Chinese, Lebanese, Christian, Muslim. What they have in common—no matter where they come from—is the desire we all share to feel that we belong. The stories explore universal themes of love, loss, family and identity, while at the same time asking crucial questions about the possibility of human connection in a globalised world.

    Melanie Cheng is an important new voice, offering a fresh perspective on contemporary Australia. Her effortless, unpretentious realism balances an insider’s sensitivity and understanding with an outsider’s clear-eyed objectivity, showing us a version of ourselves richer and more multifaceted than anything we’ve seen before. 


    Arts Hub
    Writers Victoria talk to Melanie Cheng
    ABC Radio National, Books and Arts
    Garret podcast 
    Text interviews Melanie Cheng


    AU Review
    The Lifted Brow
    Sam Still Reading (blog)
    Readings Podcast
    , Readings Prize for new Australian fiction shortlist 2017
    Sydney Review of Books 

    Melanie Cheng
    About the Author

    Melanie Cheng is a writer and general practitioner. She was born in Adelaide, grew up in Hong Kong and now lives in Melbourne. Her debut collection of short stories, Australia Day, won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2016 and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction in 2018. Room for a Stranger,...

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    Text publication date:
    8 January 2019
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    Praise for Melanie Cheng
    andAustralia Day

    ‘Melanie Cheng is an astonishingly deft and incisive writer. With economy and elegance, she creates a dazzling mosaic of contemporary life, of how we live now. Hers is a compelling new voice in Australian literature.’

    ‘What a wonderful book, a book with bite. These stories have a real edge to them. They are complex without being contrived, humanising, but never sentimental or cloying—and, ultimately, very moving.’

    ‘If only the PM might pick up a copy, even by mistake.’

    ‘A wonderful feat of storytelling…Melanie Cheng is an exciting new writer.’ 

    ‘The happy surprise of Cheng’s work as a collection lies in her resolute grasp of the absolute normalcy of a culture that not so many years ago was divided and dually suspicious. The census gives us the facts but it takes fiction to make reality three-dimensional.’

    ‘The author’s empathetic eye and easy facility with dialogue make the anthology a strong debut, with the longer stories in particular offering breadth and depth…It feels like Cheng has taken a wide sample from the census to craft this inclusive portrait of contemporary Australia.’

    ’The book bears witness to the author’s empathetic eye, multicultural characterisation and easy facility with dialogue…This short story collection explores what it means to belong, to be Australian; its insight from different vantage points and its photo-realistic narrative make it an exciting and impressive debut.’

    ‘The stories are unpretentious, diverse, and a lot of the time, disconcertingly real. Cheng’s characters are just as well realised; they live on in your head long after you’ve put her book down.’

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