Bani Adam is at school at Punchbowl Boys High School in Sydney which is a wild world of the violence and aggression of teenage boys. And it’s intense. Even though he is also Lebanese, the dominant group in the school, Bani sees himself as separate to them. He sees himself as smarter, more committed to his faith and generally just better.
It’s a hard book to read perhaps because it is so close to the ugly truth. The racism, the misogyny, the do-gooders, the otherness which is part of living in Australia. Ahmad went to the school some time ago, and so it may be representative of a different world, although has it changed much? I don’t know. I hope that things are getting better, nicer, kinder… but I know that may not be the case in reality.
The Lebs was shortlisted for the 2019 Miles Franklin Literary Award and won the Multicultural NSW Award at the 2019 NSW Literary Awards.