Announcing the shortlist for the 2020 Deborah Cass Prize

Wednesday, October 7, 2020
By: 
Writers Victoria and the Deborah Cass Writing Prize

Deborah Cass Prize logo

Now in its sixth year, the Deborah Cass Writing Prize is pleased to announce the 2020 shortlist of ten works by emerging writers from a migrant background. In a brief statement, the shortlisting judges said that once again they were moved and impressed by the quality of the stories.

The ten shortlisted works were selected from over 100 entries, the highest number in the Prize's history. Deborah Cass committee member Daniel Cass said, "We're very pleased with the larger than expected number of entries this year. The shortlisted writers each reveal new dimensions of the migrant experience in Austraila. Many of our previous shortlisted writers have gone ahead to develop successful careers. This is definitely a group of writers to look out for."

The winner will receive a cash prize of $3,000 plus a three-month mentorship with an established writer, and the winning manuscript will be presented to Black Inc.

The shortlisted writers are (in alphabetical order):

  1. Geetha Balakrishnan (NSW) for ‘Oluwale, My God Has Come Home’
  2. Pinchas Birnbaum (VIC) for ‘In His Father’s Footsteps’
  3. Johanna Ellersdorfer (NSW) for ‘Threads’ 
  4. Olivia Guntarik (VIC) for ‘Stitching Time’ 
  5. E.S. Liew (VIC) for ‘The Gatherer’
  6. Nadia Mahjouri Booker (TAS) for ‘Moroccan Blood’
  7. Dasha Maiorova (NSW) for ‘Birch’
  8. Anith Mukherjee (NSW) for ‘I Am Full Of Love’
  9. Sahib Nazari (QLD) for ‘Alone Together’

The prize winner and runners up will be determined by this year's three judges: Melanie Cheng, Lee Kofman, and Sisonke Msimang. The winners will be announced at an online event in late November, with details released closer to the date. See deborahzcass.org and @prizecass for updates. 

The prize is in memory of Deborah Cass. The granddaughter of Jewish immigrants, Deborah became a prize-winning professor of International Law at the London School of Economics. After diagnosis of cancer, Deborah left her academic career and focused on creative writing. She had a number of short fiction pieces published, but was unable to realise her aim to complete a novel. With generous support from family and friends, this prize aims to help someone outside the mainstream find a voice for themselves.

Congratulations to the shortlisted writers!