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Announcing ASAC’s Winning Writers

In July, the Australian South Asian Centre (ASAC) hosted the Opportunity for Emerging Writers to give three emerging South Asian female writers the chance to receive feedback and connect with stellar women in the world of writing and publishing.

We were so overwhelmed by the quality of the submissions and thrilled to see that so many of you were interested in sharing your stories. The task of selecting the winners was a difficult one and took much consideration. In the end, we selected our winners based on their links to South Asian culture, the themes explored and their motivation for participating in this opportunity and sharing their work.

Meet our Article winner: Komal Patil for ‘Mother Tongue and the Story of my Childhood Trauma’

Komal’s article, ‘Mother Tongue’, is for anyone who has had unlikely childhoods or due to trauma struggles to call home a safe space or accept their culture, language and community. To Komal, our mother tongue is ‘the language in which we learn our first words, listen to our lullabies and communicate in the first few years of our life. But what if we only hear apathy, inheriting chaos in the language that was supposed to make us feel at home?’

Komal shares her story of what ‘happens to language when it’s coloured with shades of trauma and lack of safety.’ Uncovering layers of childhood pain, Komal explores the dilemma of her broken relationship with her mother tongue, Marathi.

Komal is inspired by writers like Arundhati Roy and the incorporation of her fierce political stance and brutal honesty in her fictional work, and Margaret Atwood for sharing uncomfortable truths about our patriarchal world and bringing forth the reality of disastrous futures.

For those interested in learning more about the patriarchy in India, Komal recommends Seeing Like a Feminist by Nivedita Menon. It provides commentary on the contemporary political and cultural hues of India’s patriarchial systems and unpacks the circumstances that led to the current political extremities from a nuanced feminist perspective.

Our reason for choosing ‘Mother Tongue’ as our winning article was influenced by Komal’s distinctly reflective, intimate and emotive writing style. Through her work, Komal hopes to encourage readers to dig deeper to find the meaning in our lived experiences. We admire Komal’s aspirations to write stories that serve as a guiding light towards a truly feminist and empathetic world.

Meet our Short story Winner: Isabelle Quilty for ‘Threadbare Woman’

Writing from the age of eight, Isabelle hopes her writing will make a positive impact on her readers, whether it brightens someone’s day or helps to broaden perspectives. As final year university student majoring in writing and publishing, Isabelle contributes to her university’s magazine, OPUS, and intersectional feminist magazine, ENID network.

Isabelle’s short story, ‘Threadbare Woman’, is a dedication to the strength and resilience of South Asian women globally. Carefully woven as a tale of a woman reclaiming her home from an abusive partner, ‘Threadbare Woman, represents the collective strength of South Asian women’s ability to embrace tradition while also expressing their individuality.

For Isabelle, this story is for ‘everyone who is struggling and might need a reminder of how powerful they really are, even at their lowest moments.’

‘Threadbare Woman’ is a reminder that all women, everywhere, are the culmination of the resolute strength of all those who came before us.

Tired of seeing characters of colour sidelined in fiction, Isabelle is currently working on a paranormal Young Adult novel that’s centred on a trans Indian man as the protagonist. Isabelle is inspired by the author and poet, Nikita Gill, whose work she says, ‘feels like it comes straight from her soul.’ Isabelle recommends reading Nikita Gill’s, The Girl and the Goddess, a book of poems that tells the story of an Indian girl who is guided by gods and goddesses throughout her life. According to Isabelle, it’s beautiful prose and representation of LGBTQ themes make it a must-read.

Meet our Book winner: Priyanka Sathy for Brown and Blue

When asked to describe her writing style, Priyanka felt that ‘raw, honest and reflective,’ was the best way to capture the depth of feeling, strength and vulnerability expressed in her work.

Her winning submission, Brown and Blue, is a memoir that traces Priyanka’s mental health journey and the issues related to navigating it as an Indian-Australian. By sharing her story, Priyanka wants to start conversations around mental health and normalising the topic in the South Asian community, and ASAC strongly supports this message.

Although the topic of mental health has received increased attention and become more widely accepted in mainstream media, the associated stigma within the South Asian community still exists. South Asian culture grounds many decisions around the question, “What will people think?”

Priyanka shared, “The pressure to ‘keep it together’ emotionally and mentally can take a huge toll on those who are suffering from mental health issues. It can be a matter of life or death.”

What inspires Priyanka to keep writing is knowing that by sharing her story she can help others in our community feel heard, seek professional help, and increase their understanding of how mental health and culture interplay.

Priyanka is inspired by authors who seamlessly weave words together to bring their story to life especially when this involves the integration of sensitive topics. When asked which book character she most associated with she responded with the caterpillar in The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. She jokes, “I find myself constantly reaching out for snacks,” but on a deeper level, Priyanka says she feels like she’s currently going through a metamorphosis.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to submit their work to this opportunity. We, at ASAC, love seeing emerging South Asian female authors and writers publishing books and articles that reflect our shared lived experiences, culture and diversity. This is why we’re committed to supporting you and curating meaningful opportunities to help develop your writing, build connections and meet other likeminded creatives.


To be part of our community of supportive and ambitious South Asian women, sign up to be a member here.