The Daily Review has published an article about Hope: An Anthology, the result of Brotherhood of St Laurence’s first literary award, the Hope Prize. The collection is made up of the prizewinning and highly commended stories, judged by Quentin Bryce, Cate Blanchett and Kate Grenville. Enjoy the reading and the photos!
Hossein*, an asylum seeker from Iran, is not your typical Melbourne barista. And Cate Blanchett is not your usual coffee customer.
Amid a divisive debate on refugees, the two had a moment of human connection when Blanchett was in Melbourne recently to help the anti-poverty group the Brotherhood of St Laurence launch a book of short stories.
Focusing on the theme of resilience amid hardship, Hope: An Anthology, brings together the best of entries submitted for the Hope Prize, a short story competition launched by the Brotherhood.
The winning stories were selected by a judging panel including Blanchett, writer Kate Grenville and former Governor General Quentin Bryce and have been compiled by publisher Simon and Schuster.
In her judge’s remarks, Blanchett said she was ‘extremely moved’ by the winning story which takes up the theme of homelessness. She said the stories in the anthology “revealed powerful perspectives on the world at large” and captured unique, unpretentious and authentic voices.
The Hope Prize was conceived by the Melbourne-based welfare organisation as an antidote to common stereotypes of “the poor”, said Brotherhood of St Laurence advisor Farah Farouque.
“We chose to invoke ‘hope’ in the title of our competition because we wanted to encourage really nuanced writing that reflected the resilience people do show in tough times.”
Quentin Bryce, who has written the book’s foreword, said she valued the collection for the way it demonstrated the critical importance of showing compassion to strangers.
When Bryce and Blanchett got together in Melbourne for a photo shoot to promote the book, it also offered an opportunity for Hossein – he was invited to show his newly acquired coffee-making skills. He is a graduate of the Brotherhood’s Given the Chance program placing asylum seekers with work rights into paid employment, and works as a barista in an inner city cafe.
Hossein is great fan of Blanchett, both for her acting and activism – she is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations refugee agency. “I still can’t believe that I made coffee for Cate,” he said. “It was one of the best experiences.”
Hope: An Anthology, published by Simon & Schuster, is out now and is available at Readings and other bookstores.
*We have chosen not to publish Hossein’s full name while his application for refugee status is being processed.
Source: Daily Review