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March 23, 2022

2022 ASA/HQ Commercial Fiction Prize winner announcement

The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) and HQ, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, are delighted to announce that Ayesha Inoon has won the 2022 ASA/HQ Commercial Fiction Prize for unpublished manuscripts with her work Untethered.

Untethered is a finely observed contemporary novel of a young Muslim woman’s experience of immigration to Australia, on leaving behind the political unrest of Colombo, Sri Lanka. 

Ayesha Inoon is a Sri Lankan-Australian writer and former journalist who has lived in Sri Lanka, Egypt, India, the USA and Canada. She based the novel in part on her own experience. 

Ayesha said, ‘I have carried this book in my heart for so long, and writing it was a way to explore and understand my own experience of immigration and what it meant to recreate a sense of identity and belonging in a new country. We immigrate in search of better lives and freedom from conflict and we don’t fully understand what we are leaving behind until we are on the other side. I am excited to work with HQ on the next stage of this journey and would like to thank both ASA and HQ for this fabulous opportunity. And many congratulations to the other shortlisted authors.’

As the winner of the prize, Ayesha will receive a publishing contract with HQ and a $10,000 advance against royalties. The book will be published in 2023.

Head of Publishing for HQ, Jo Mackay, said, ‘A standout in an already strong field, Untethered is thoughtful, insightful writing that brings readers the lived experience of what it is to lose family, friends and country and start again in a new and not always welcoming place.’ 

ASA CEO Olivia Lanchester said, ‘Our warm congratulations to Ayesha Inoon! We are thrilled to be able to partner with HQ to offer this opportunity, and we wish Ayesha all the very best success with her book.’

The runner up is Someone Else by Lydia Evans, a funny, authentically voiced novel of a woman’s struggle to be the perfect mother, wife, friend and daughter that others expect her to be. Lydia will receive $500 and a year’s membership of the ASA. 

The competition received nearly 200 entries, showcasing a wide array of uniquely Australian and New Zealand voices. HQ publishers shortlisted the top three manuscripts, which also included Next of Kin by Inessa Jackson, a mystery & crime novel where a Red Cross doctor returns to her small Australian beach town to uncover the truth to her brother’s disappearance.

The ASA/HQ Commercial Fiction Prize is biennial and open to all Australian fiction writers. The next competition will open in September 2023. 


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