We’re delighted to join forces with the Western Sydney literacy movement Sweatshop to establish a mentorship which will enable two Western Sydney writers from culturally diverse backgrounds to develop their debut novels.

Sweatshop’s Director, Dr Michael Mohammed Ahmad, and Affirm Press senior editor, Ruby Ashby-Orr, were the driving forces behind The Affirm Press Mentorship for Sweatshop Writers.

‘This is a unique opportunity for two of Western Sydney’s most exciting new writers to work with one of Australia’s best publishers. The mentorship will result in two new novels which reflect the incredible diversity of contemporary Australian culture,’ said Mohammed.

The mentorship follows a string of powerful literary initiatives that Sweatshop has been developing with culturally diverse and Indigenous writers from Western Sydney since 2012.

The two writers who have been selected for the Affirm Press Mentorship for Sweatshop Writers are Shirley Le, a Vietnamese-Australian writer from Yagoona, whose short stories and essays have appeared in The Lifted Brow, SBS Life and Meanjin; and Palestinian-Australian Muslim poet from Bankstown, Sara Saleh, who is best-known as ‘slambassador’ of the Bankstown Poetry Slam.

In a joint statement, Shirley and Sara said, ‘We are honoured and humbled to be selected for the Affirm Press Mentorship. Thank you to Sweatshop and Affirm Press for such a wonderful opportunity. We are ready to get started. As women of colour from Western Sydney, we have plenty to contribute to Australian writing. It’s time for the shelves in our libraries and bookstores to include more voices from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.’Affirm Press Publishing Director and CEO Martin Hughes and Senior Editor Ruby Ashby-Orr will both be working directly with Sara and Shirley to help develop their debut novels.

‘We are committed to nurturing new talent and promoting greater diversity across our publishing list, and we could hardly be more excited about teaming up with an organisation as dynamic and direct as Sweatshop. Shirley and Sara are exceptional young writers and we can’t wait to collaborate with them on the first two books in this splendid initiative,’ said Martin.

The mentorship includes up to two years of editorial support and feedback on a manuscript and advice on building a writing profile. Affirm Press will receive the first publishing option for the chosen manuscripts.

Shirley Le and Sara Saleh

Shirley Le and Sara Saleh