A GP, writer and Sydney Writers’ Festival Guest Curator Melanie Cheng returns to the Festival with Room for a Stranger, her follow-up to the prize-winning Australia Day. As an author, she has been lauded as “astonishingly deft and incisive” by Christos Tsiolkas and “sharp and sympathetic” by Jennifer Down. She speaks with Ailsa Piper about a novel that unfolds the seemingly ordinary lives of an elderly woman and struggling student living under the same roof to reveal the complex and important truths about connection and home.

Melanie Cheng (Australian)

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Melanie Cheng is a writer and general practitioner. Of Chinese-Australian heritage, she was born in Adelaide, grew up in Hong Kong and now lives in Melbourne. Her short story collection Australia Day won the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript and the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction, and was shortlisted for the 2018 Indie Book Award for debut fiction and the 2017 Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction. Room for a Stranger is her second book.

Ailsa Piper (Australian)

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Ailsa Piper is a writer, performer, director, teacher and facilitator. Her most recent book was The Attachment, co-authored with Tony Doherty. Her travel memoir, Sinning Across Spain, was re-released in 2017. Her script Small Mercies was co-winner of the Patrick White Playwrights Award. She is sustained by reading, walking, swimming and trees.