A hilarious, heartwarming memoir of growing up and becoming yourself in an Egyptian Muslim family
Soos is coming of age in a household with a lot of rules. No bikinis, despite the Queensland heat. No boys, unless he's Muslim. And no life insurance, not even when her father gets cancer.
Soos is trying to balance her parents' strict decrees with having friendships, crushes and the freedom to develop her own values. With each rule Soos comes up against, she is forced to choose between doing what her parents say is right and following her instincts. When her family falls apart, she comes to see her parents as flawed, their morals based on a muddy logic. But she will also learn that they are her strongest defenders
Sara El Sayed was born in Alexandria, Egypt. She has a Master of Fine Arts and works at Queensland University of Technology. Her work features in the anthologies Growing Up African in Australia and Arab, Australian, Other, among other places. She is a recipient of a Queensland Writers Fellowship and was a finalist for the 2020 Queensland Premier's Young Writers and Publishers Award. Muddy People is her first book.
'It takes courage to write a memoir, but more than that it takes heart, and Sara El Sayed's heart is generous and expansive. I gasped in recognition, I teared up in solidarity and I exhaled in relief – finally, a personal story that reflects so much that is familiar but is rarely found on bookshelves. This is the kind of memoir I have searched for in vain for years. Sara El Sayed has written a book both confident and delicate that will leave you eagerly awaiting her next. Read this!' —Mona Eltahawy, The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls
'Muddy People is a nuanced, engaging and lyrical account of what it means to be Other in Australia, and its characters are impeccably drawn. Sara El Sayed is an enchanting and refreshing new voice in the Australian literary landscape.' —Maxine Beneba Clarke, author of The Hate Race
'A beautifully told story of parents and children, pain and loss, and the love that binds people together. Told with real heart and charm, it will keep you riveted from the first page. Sara El Sayed is the most important new Arab-Australian voice in literature today.' —Rohan Wilson, author of The Roving Party
'Sara El Sayed's writing is fresh, vibrant and dynamic. This is the kind of mud that will dirty your hands and cleanse your spirit.' —Michael Mohammed Ahmad, author of The Lebs
'Both cosmopolitan and Australian at the same time, Muddy People is like the best kind of cake: warm, sweet, a bit nutty – and made with so much love.' —Alice Pung, author of Unpolished Gem
'With elegant lyricism, compelling urgency and a dark sense of humour, Muddy People by Sara El Sayed is an impressive debut memoir ... El Sayed's coming to voice reflects her journey of self-realisation, of understanding what it means to be a migrant millennial.' —Books+Publishing