We are delighted that The House of Youssef by Yumna Kassab has been longlisted for the 2020 Stella Prize, an award that celebrates women’s writing.
The House of Youssef is a debut collection of short stories remarkable for its minimalism. Set in the western suburbs of Sydney, it portrays the lives of Lebanese immigrants and their families: their hopes and regrets, their feelings of isolation, and their nostalgia for what they might have lost or left behind.
Of the work, the judges said:
Rarely does a debut writer create a work this consistent in quality, technique and narrative form. The House of Youssef is a stunning collection of short stories exploring the intricacies of migrant life in Australia, and the pressures faced by culturally diverse Australians to balance their identity in a landscape that is constantly shifting when it comes to inclusion and equality.
Kassab uses her sparse and thoughtful prose to bring to life generations of families, and constructs each character with compassion, generosity and detail. Whilst the stories all stand on their own individually, each builds on the next to create a strong collection that shines as a whole. Issues such as gender equality, poverty, racism and family dynamics come together to demonstrate the complexity of the Australian identity.
This collection suggests we have much more to look forward to from Kassab as an emerging talent.
Read more about the award on the Stella Prize website.