Deborah Cass

Deborah Cass Prize Shortlist

“Hate is not only a political strategy, it is a failure of imagination, a lack of empathy. We can’t legislate for imagination, we can only do what people have always done: tell new stories, build better worlds in the theatre of the mind.” — Dan Cass

I am on the shortlist for  the 2018 Deborah Cass award.

Deborah was an academic at the London School of Economics who decided to focus on creative writing after a cancer diagnosis. She had two short stories published before she passed away in 2013 at the age of 53. Her family and friends set up the Deborah Cass Prize for early career writers from a migrant background; writers who were born overseas or have at least one parent who was born overseas. Early career = fewer than 10 publications.

Deborah was first diagnosed in 2003 when she was the age that I am now. She relapsed three years later and passed away in 2013. It was almost as if Deborah was reminding me that I’ve been through too much to not just do what I love doing and to go for it. I’ve decided to go to the awards night because I haven’t left WA since 2010. I’m super-excited about seeing my Melbourne friends again and I’m also looking forward to getting some writing time.

The shortlist:

  • ‘Bread of the dead’ by Shannon Anima (Canada)
  • ‘The resurrection of Tuesday Goodman’ by Lyn Dickens (Singapore)
  • ‘Things I used to believe’ by Karina Ko (China)
  • ‘Taking care of eggs’ by Nasrin Mahoutchi-Hosaini (Iran)
  • ‘Fell our selves’ by Aline-Mwezi Niyonsenga (Rwanda)
  • ‘The lady on the dark side of the moon’ by Marianna Shek (Hong Kong)
  • ‘Maybe it’s Wanchai’ by E Sun (Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong)
  • ‘The origin of things’ by Su-May Tan (Malaysia).

The brackets after the name indicate the writer’s family background.

Writers had to submit an excerpt from work in progress and a statement about the larger work.

My novel has taken many shapes over the years. It’s taken a life of its own recently and I can’t wait to get back to writing it.


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