Sallis, Eva 1964–

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Sallis, Eva 1964–

(Eva Katerina Hornung, Eva Katerina Sallis)

PERSONAL: Born August 21, 1964, in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia; daughter of Richard Hornung and Briar Mitcalfe; married Roger Sallis. Education: University of Adelaide, M.A., 1991, Ph.D., 1996.

ADDRESSES: Agent—Lesley McFadzean, Cameron Creswell Agency, 7th Fl., 61 Marlborough St., Surry Hills, New South Wales 2010, Australia.

CAREER: Writer, poet, and novelist. University of Adelaide, visiting research fellow. Australians against Racism, cofounder.

AWARDS, HONORS: Australian/Vogel Literary Award, 1997, and Nita May Dobbie Literary Award, both for Hiam; Steele Rudd Literary Award, 2004, for Mahjar; Asher Literary Award, 2005, for The Marsh Birds.


Hiam (novel), Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 1998.

Sheherazade through the Looking Glass: The Metamorphosis of the 1,001 Nights (literary criticism), Curzon, 1999.

(Editor, with others) Painted Words, Wakefield Press (Kent Town, South Australia, Australia), 1999.

(Editor, with Heather Miller) AIR! Australia Is Refugees: Winning Essays and Stories 2002, Australians against Racism (North Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia), 2002.

(Editor with others) Forked Tongues, Wakefield Press (Kent Town, South Australia, Australia), 2002.

The City of Sealions, (novel), Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.

Mahjar (novel), Allen & Unwin (St. Leonards, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.

(Editor, with Sonja Dechian and Heather Miller) Dark Dreams: Australian Refugee Stories, Wakefield Press (Kent Town, South Australia, Australia), 2004.

Fire Fire (novel), Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2004.

(Editor, with Heather Millar) There Is No Place like Home: Winning Stories 2004, Australians against Racism, 2004.

The Marsh Birds (novel), Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2005.

Contributor of fiction to periodicals, including Heat, Elle, Joussour, Island, Southerly, Nouvelle Revue Française, and Griffith Review. Contributor to publications, including Journal of Arabic and Middle Eastern Literatures, Journal of Semitic Studies, Kalimat, Australian Bookseller & Publisher, Australian Screen Education, and Goodreading. Author of libretto for The Lover and AlieNation.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A modern "Romulus and Remus" story set in Moscow.

SIDELIGHTS: Australian author Eva Sallis is a writer of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry whose works "explore ideas on culture, exile and belonging," as reported on her home page. A frequent traveler to the Middle East, Sallis is fluent in Arabic. She is cofounder of Australians against Racism, an organization that works to increase public awareness and knowledge of the many experiences of refugees and asylum seekers throughout the world.

Sallis served as coeditor, with Sonja Dechian and Heather Miller, of Dark Dreams: Australian Refugee Stories. This anthology of thirty-seven stories, all written by refugees between the ages of eleven and twenty years, is "a melding of fictions, truths, and imagination creating something vital, cellular and unique," commented Chelsea Rodd in the Journal of Australian Studies, "The stories deliver important, rare perspectives and personal insights allowing oft-silenced voices to speak from their hearts." The tales concern a variety of modern refugees, seekers of asylum, and immigrants who fled intolerable circumstances in their homeland for a better chance in Australia. The wave of refugees profiled first began arriving in Australia in 1976, many after dangerous journeys over open waters. Though their lives had been uprooted, and everything and everyone they knew had been left behind, they were readily accepted into Australian society. Modern refugees in Australia face greater difficulties, however, and are often ignored, refused, and marginalized. The book "offers precious insights into the varied experiences of refugees," Rodd noted. "Each story is unique, deeply personal, and powerfully seductive."

In her debut novel, Hiam, Sallis tells the story of Hiam, a young Arab woman, who not only must adjust to a new life in Australia but also deal with the emotional consequences of a once-vibrant relationship that has dissolved. In often-mysterious situations, Hiam ponders the devastation that immigration can visit upon a marriage, upon one's sense of self, and upon one's cultural identity. Hiam's happier years in a lush, satisfying Yemen are contrasted with the dry, desolate Australian landscape she drives through, a setting that in turn mirrors the bleak psychological landscapes Hiam's painful circumstances have created. When she meets a handsome young gas-station attendant on her travels, however, she finds that the exquisite pain of her past may subside, and beauty may finally bloom for her on Australian soil. "The novel is exquisitely woven, stitched together with reminiscences, dreams, and interior monologue, all lonely activities, which only serve to heighten the pervasive sense of alienation and sorrow," commented Cleo Lloyd da Silva in Antipodes. Sallis "explores her characters' foibles and vulnerabilities with sensitivity and insight," da Silva observed.

Though many of Hiam's experiences span cultural boundaries, Sallis does not want readers to ignore or diminish the different cultural aspects of Hiam's life. "Sameness and difference have to be acknowledged side by side," she stated in an interview with Paul Best in AQ. "I very much wanted to write against the way we generalize about other cultures and simply present that as a given, as something you have to flow with rather than judge and stand back from. The cultural difference can't be erased."

The City of Sealions is set on the coast of South Australia where Lian, daughter of Vietnam refugee Phi-Van and Australian native Nev, works to define her identity even as she struggles to escape from the strong but dysfunctional influence of her mother. Phi-Van is cut off from her own cultural heritage in Southeast Asia, and her longing for it is unassuaged by affable fisherman and upstanding husband Nev. The relationship that develops between mother and daughter is fraught with jealousy, distrust, and rancor, but even when Lian finally breaks away to study abroad in Yemen, her mother's unhappy influence still presses in on her life. However, as she becomes publicly invisible behind the concealing traditional clothing of Yemen's Arabic culture, she finds a closeness in the community of Arabic women that she never had in Australia. The love of religious student Ibrahim offers to take her even further from her stifling homeland. The novel stands as "a timely and thoughtful exploration of contemporary Australia and belonging," remarked Lisa Slater in Southerly. A Kirkus Reviews critic called Sallis's work "strong and evocative," and named the novel "a gracefully wrought reflection on identity within exile."

Mahjar contains a collection of fifteen interlinking short stories that examine the experiences of Arab immigrants in Australia. In the book's first story, a couple on vacation is attacked by a kangaroo; though the Australian husband is savaged by the beast, the Arab wife beats the creature to death with her shoe, all the while shouting "God is great!" The story presents "an allegory for the startling collision between Australian and Arab cultures," observed a Kirkus Reviews critic. In another tale, Zein is unhappy at her son's impending wedding to a plain, skinny Australian girl. An insightful observance of the "electric happiness" between her son and future daughter-in-law, however, brings Zein a much-needed epiphany. The stories mix realism, Arabic folklore, and humor to created "an original and pithy book that should be read as much for its laughs as for its insights," commented Ceridwen Spark in the Sydney Morning Herald. A reviewer in the Paddington, New South Wales Bulletin called it "a book full of wisdom and treasured gentle moments, but also of such anger that it's difficult to reconcile, which is perhaps what Sallis intended."



Age (Melbourne), February 15, 2003, "A Woman of Many Cultures," profile of Eva Sallis.

Antipodes, December, 1999, Cleo Lloyd Da Silva, "On Loneliness and Exile," review of Hiam, p. 125.

AQ, November-December, 1998, Paul Best, interview with Eva Sallis.

Bulletin (Paddington, New South Wales, Australia), April 30, 2003, review of Mahjar.

Journal of Australian Studies, September, 2004, Chelsea Rodd, review of Dark Dreams: Australian Refugee Stories, p. 142.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2005, review of The City of Sealions, p. 145; February 15, 2005, review of Mahjar, p. 194.

Pharmacy News, May 18, 2005, "Separation Anxiety: From Homeland to Hurtland, a Refugee Story," review of The Marsh Birds.

Southerly, autumn, 2002, Lisa Slater, "Possibilities for Australia," review of The City of Sealions, p. 197.

Sydney Morning Herald, April 5, 2003, Ceridwen Spark, review of Mahjar.


AussieReviews Online, (July 14, 2005), Sally Murphy, reviews of Fire Fire and Mahjar.

AustLit Web site, (July 14, 2005), biography of Eva Sallis.

Australians against Racism Web site, (July 14, 2005).

Eva Sallis Home Page, (July 14, 2005).